This recipe for Korean Beef Bulgogi features thinly sliced, tender marinated beef that pairs well with steamed rice, on buns, or wrapped with fresh lettuce leaves.
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What is bulgogi?
Korean Bulgogi is a thinly sliced marinated meat that is barbequed or grilled.
Bulgogi means "fire meat," where bul = "fire" and gogi = "meat."
Typically, beef is used, however you can also find chicken and pork bulgogi.
It is slightly different than Korean Galbi Beef, where the only difference is the cut of beef that is used.
What does beef bulgogi taste like?
It has a predominantly savory, salty and sweet taste with a slight hint of garlic flavor.
If cooked over the BBQ grill, beef bulgogi will have that enticing, smoky flavor.
Which type of meat to use?
Thin slices of beef such as sirloin, rib eye, flank steak or brisket are all good choices.
Choose a meat that has a bit of fat to give it tenderness and additional flavor.
For a non-traditional version, bulgogi using ground beef is a delicious alternative.
Why you'll love this recipe
Quick: the cooking process only takes a few minutes as the meat is thinly sliced.
Delicious: the sweet and salty flavor of the marinated beef is a winning combination, especially on rice.
Versatile: use bulgogi in various applications, such as gimbap, bibimbap, or on loaded fries.
Ingredients you'll need
- beef rib eye: thinly sliced; you can use sirloin, flank steak, or brisket
- soy sauce: regular soy sauce
- brown sugar: you can also use regular granulated sugar
- Asian pear: also known as apple pear, is a large pale yellow/white-skinned pear that is very sweet and water; adds sweetness to the marinade
- garlic: finely minced
- white onion: sliced
- black pepper
- sesame oil: adds flavor and aroma
You can find these ingredients at Korean grocery stores or large Asian supermarkets.
How to make it
Marinate the beef:
Place the thinly sliced beef, soy sauce, brown sugar, grated Asian pear, garlic, onion, black pepper and sesame oil into a bowl.
Mix the marinade into the meat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place into the fridge for 20 minutes, or overnight.
Cook the beef:
Heat a frying pan over medium high heat, and add 1 teaspoon of oil.
Add in the marinated beef.
Stir-fry the meat, until cooked, around 4-5 minutes.
Remove from pan and serve with steamed rice.
Alternative ways to cook the meat
Apart from stir-frying the thinly sliced meat in a frying pan or skillet, you can use grill the meat over a charcoal barbeque, or use a stove-top griddle.
How to serve
Wrap the beef with fresh lettuce leaves, perilla leaves, kimchi and ssamjang dipping sauce (made with gochujang, doenjang, and a mixture of aromatics including sesame oil).
How to store
Marinate and store bulgogi in a glass bowl in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can freeze the marinated beef in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Store any leftover cooked bulgogi in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
You can also freeze cooked leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month.
Defrost the cooked bulgogi overnight in the refrigerator before gently reheating in the microwave or in a frying pan.
Ways to use leftover Korean bbq beef
If you have leftover bulgogi, use it in bibimbap (Korean mixed rice), Korean bulgogi burgers, gimbap, wrapped in lettuce wraps or add it into Korean loaded fries.
The longer the beef sits in the marinade, the more flavor it will absorb.
If you have time, let the meat marinate overnight for more flavor.
For a shortcut, you can find thinly sliced hot pot meat, which is easily found at large Asian supermarkets.
Otherwise, you can take the meat and freeze it for 15-20 minutes, and use a sharp knife to make thin slices.
Other Korean recipes you may like
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Korean Beef Bulgogi
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- ½ lb thinly sliced rib eye beef or sirloin, brisket
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ C grated Asian pear
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- ¼ white onion sliced
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 green onion sliced
- 1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds optional
Marinate the beef:
- Place the thinly sliced beef, soy sauce, brown sugar, grated Asian pear, garlic, onion, black pepper and sesame oil into a bowl.
- Mix the marinade into the meat.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place into the fridge for 20 minutes, or overnight.
Cook the beef:
- Heat a frying pan over medium high heat, and add 1 teaspoon of oil.
- Add in the marinated beef.
- Stir-fry the meat, until cooked, around 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from pan and serve with steamed rice.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.