The components of this dish are stitched together with a sweet and spicy sauce made simply of water, sugar, and gochujang, the Korean fermented chile-soybean paste. Says Anita of the dark maroon condiment, "It’s one of the basics of Korean cooking. In the old days every Korean house had three pots in their backyard. One for the gochujang, one for the doenjang [fermented bean paste], and one for the soy sauce." Used widely in Korean cooking to marinate meats and flavor stews, gochujang can be purchased in Asian specialty stores including the national Korean chain, H Mart.
Reprinted with permission from Come In, We’re Closed © 2012 by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
Slice the beef across the grain in thin 3-inch-long strips. (You should have about 3 cups of beef strips total.) Mix the beef with 1 cup of the sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 hours or up to overnight.
Cook the rice according to package instructions. Fluff and keep warm in the pot it was cooked in.
Season the carrots liberally with salt; set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes, then squeeze dry in a clean kitchen towel. Repeat this salting procedure with the squash. (The step can be omitted, but it helps with the overall seasoning of the dish and leaches out excess liquid.)
Mix the gochujang with the remaining sugar and thin with a tablespoon or two of water until a just-pourable paste is formed; set aside. Drain the marinated beef, removing the garlic cloves, and discard the marinade. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon each of the sesame and canola oils over high heat. When nearly smoking, sauté half the beef for 2-3 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from the pan, set aside, and repeat with 1 tablespoon of each of the oils and the remaining beef. Keep warm.
In a nonstick pan over medium heat, fry the eggs in 1 tablespoon of canola oil until the yolks have set completely, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high, sauté the carrot, squash, onions, and spinach individually over high heat using 1 tablespoon of each oil until tender, 1-3 minutes each. After cooking, squeeze the spinach dry using a clean kitchen towel.
Warm the rice, add the beef, eggs, and vegetables to the pot, and pour in ½ of the gochujang sauce; mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust with additional sauce, salt, and pepper if desired. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately, with extra gochujang sauce on the side for drizzling over top.