Grandpa Don’s Bugachi (Teriyaki Beef Skewers)

Just over a week ago, Karen posted a recipe that started out with a small tribute to a great man who I never got the chance to meet…but I still feel blessed to experience his presence every time we have a gathering with her family.  Her Grandpa Don’s legacy lives on in some way with every member of her immediate and extended family (and everyone else who knew him as well), and it is always fun to hear the stories told of his sense of humor, adventurous spirit, and masterful culinary skills (and on more than one occasion, it seems, he would combine all three).

I think this recipe may be one such combination.  I emphasize “think” because I can’t really get a good straight answer out of anyone…no one seems to know exactly where the recipe, or the name, comes from (there is even debate over what the actual name is).  Given Don’s reputation, it would not surprise me a bit if the word was one he made up entirely…and possibly even changed up now and again to throw everyone off.  Of course, trying out web searches for about every phonetic spelling variation of every version of the name I have for this recipe has come up with nothing but a link to a clothing line that is spelled similar.  Somehow, I can picture Grandpa Don chuckling somewhere right now as I’m writing.  Perhaps it’s fitting that this is posted on the first day of April…

The final bit I’ll throw out about this recipe is that it isn’t exactly the version that was originally given to me years ago when I had been around long enough (and proven my own culinary skills within the Carpenter circles) to be trusted with it.  I’ve been told that Don cooked a lot like I do – often “improvising” with little (or sometimes large) additions or ommissions off the cuff to change things up a bit.  So while the name may be entirely fiction, and this version takes a little creative departure from the original, there is something I am certain about – Don’s spirit is very much still a part of our family, and I am honored to share this with our readers.

Gather Up:

  • 3 lbs round steak or other economy cut of grass-fed beef, sliced lengthwise into 1/2″ x 3/4″ wide strips
  • 1 large leek, pale green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2~3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 3/4 cup tamari
  • 1/2 cup raw local honey
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Start out cutting the beef into long strips.  I like to make mine a bit thicker – using a 3/4″ thick steak and cutting it 3/8″ to 1/2″ wide in long pieces.  You may prefer to cut the steak thinner, especially if using flank steak or London broil.  Once all the meat is cut, you can set it aside for a little bit while we move on.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Whisk vigorously to ensure the honey is fully dissolved, then transfer the mixture into a gallon-sized freezer bag.  Add the meat to the bag and toss it around to coat everything well.  Press as much air out as possible, then seal it up and let sit in the fridge (we put it inside of a rimmed dish in case the bag gets poked or bumped).  Marinade overnight to 24 hours.

The next day, prepare the bugachi by threading the meat onto bamboo skewers.  Stack them all up and let come to room temperature while you warm the grill up to medium-high heat (I went for 400 on the pellet grill).

Once the grill is hot, arrange the skewers over the grate and cook for about 4 to 7 minutes per side (depending on how indirect your heat is and how thick your pieces are).  For me, at 400 degrees indirect with thicker pieces, a total of 14 minutes on the grill is perfect.  Gather the finished ones back up on a serving tray and serve warm – provided of course that you can swat away the hovering crowd long enough to actually gather them without having them stolen right off the grill (seriously …good luck with that)!

There you have it – Grandpa Don’s Bugachi, done Purely Primal style.

11 Responses to Grandpa Don’s Bugachi (Teriyaki Beef Skewers)

  1. Awesome!! I actually teared up a little reading this. And I have a copy of that same picture of him!! LOL!

  2. Here is the story told to me by Pop: While he was outside pruning his apple trees, a Vietnamese lady from the neighborhood walked by on the street. As was Pop’s way, they struck up a conversation and it naturally turned to food. She gave him the recipe and he probably tweeked it as you have. It never had a chance to get to a plate because it was sooooo good. He sometimes called it Boogamie. But ask your sis-in-law, I am sure she knows what the name is as it is a Vietnamese recipe. I wish you could have met him, Casey cause you two would have had great fun cooking together!!

  3. Terri Parker-Ritter

    I am happy to say I knew and loved Don Carpenter, he was clearly one of a kind. Thanks to his wonderful family, his memory goes on in so many tasteful ways. We have enjoyed this recipe many times while camping together and at Carpenter family functions. It never fails to be a crowd pleas-er. Thank you Casey for sharing it. And thank you Donna, for sharing the story to go with it. It’s such a great story and so typical of your dad. We all loved him.
    Hmmm….think I will go make some right now!

  4. I think Dad always made some hot mustard and had sesame seeds to dip the meat in. Jeez, I sure miss him.

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  6. I ran across your blog via Mark Sisson’s “Link Love” today (3 April)! What a great find! I’m eager to try Grandpa Don’s recipe, just as soon as I reclaim our grill from winter.

  7. I also got here via MDA.

    The recipe as you posted it reminded me of bulgogi. Here’s an example: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/bulgogi-korean-barbecued-beef/Detail.aspx.

    Sounds like you all have some really great memories of Don. What a great way to remember a loved one, by enjoying one of their scrumptious recipes.

  8. Well when i get done with the boo whooo i tell yall. D.J. she was korean and she took all the apples , rotten ones too. We were mowen the yard , dad was worken on the always leaking sprinkler system he set up.oh ya he has got the apple recipe somewhere too on a little piece of paper.

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