Beef Bulgogi, or also known as Korean BBQ Beef, is a popular Korean dish with big flavors. Tender beef marinated in a savory sweet soy based sauce and then grilled or seared to perfection…simply irresistible and so easy to make!
What is Bulgogi or Korean BBQ Beef?
We love Korean BBQ.
And gosh we miss it. (We don’t have any close by where we currently live.)
We love those Korean BBQ restaurants where we sit around a grill placed on the center of our table and sear the delicious marinated meats ourselves. We patiently wait for meat to cook while breathing in the aroma of yummy food. When it is done, we immediately bring it to our plates and wolf it down our throats.
And then keep repeating the process until we are crazy full and completely satisfied.
Being at home so much during this season makes me crave Korean BBQ big time. Korean BBQ restaurants serve all kinds of meat, but today we will focus on one. Korean BBQ Beef, or commonly known as Bulgogi Beef, is a very popular item on the menu in Korean BBQ restaurants.
You can also find Bulgogi Beef outside a Korean BBQ setting. You can go to any regular Korean restaurants and it is typically served with rice, kimchi and other sides.
It is basically a tender slice of beef marinated in a beautiful yet fairly simple concoction of spices and sauces.
The marinating part in the process is important because that is the reason why the beef is so flavorful and delicious.
Simple to make, tender, delicious, and OH SO DANG GOOD.
Korean BBQ Marinade
That is right. Traditionally, fresh pear is blended into the bulgogi marinade and produce a distinct, unique and beautiful flavor.
Everything comes together to bring about a savory, sweet, slightly tangy (from the hint of vinegar and the fruit) flavor.
What kind of beef to use?
I highly recommend a fairly good cut of beef. I like to use sirloin steak for this, but you can also use trip-tip, flank, New York Strip etc. Avoid tougher cuts such as beef chuck.
It is important to slice the beef cross grain and slice it fairly thinly to ensure beef is tender and not overly tough.
What kind of appliance to use for Korean BBQ Beef?
If you want to grill it using an outdoor grill, that would work great as well. In fact the smoke would add a lot of beautiful flavor to the meat.
There are special Korea BBQ grills you can buy to recreate the full Korean BBQ experience at home, but it is not necessary. I typically cook this using this cast iron grill that I love and use very often.
This is one of those recipes where there are a few ways we can substitute some ingredients and it will still tastes pretty yummy and close to the real thing.
If you cannot find pears, you can use apples or even apple juice as a substitute. Use 1/2 apple or 1/4 cup of apple juice to substitute for the 1/2 pear the recipe calls for.
Similarly, if you cannot find rice vinegar, feel free to use white vinegar or even apple cider vinegar instead.
Ginger root can be substituted with ground ginger as well, but avoid substituting fresh garlic with garlic powder if at all possible!
Ground garlic just doesn’t have the same depth of flavor fresh garlic has, and I think there is a slight aftertaste in garlic powder that changes the flavor in the marinade.
Tips and Tricks
A few more tips and tricks and you should be all set!
- Slice beef cross grain and thinly.
- Because beef is sliced thinly, it cooks fairly quickly. So prepare to bring to grill pan/skillet and remove quickly after that.
- Marinade beef for at least an hour! This is important to get lots of yummy flavors into the meat. And there is no need to marinate for a super long time. The beef is sliced pretty thinly so they soak up the flavors pretty fast!
How to Serve Beef Bulgogi
I love serving this over white or brown rice. Nothing too complicated or convoluted. 🙂
In addition to rice, I like to pair it with some veggies. Here are some good options:
- Pickled cucumbers (as shown in picture), carrots, red onions etc.
- Kimchi – a traditional Korean side!
- Stir fry veggies – try this favorite of mine, Sautéed Garlic Brussels Sprouts and Carrots!
- Raw veggies (quick and easy!) such as shredded carrots or cabbage or seaweed.
So there you go! A simple yet such a delicious rendition of Korean BBQ Beef right in the comforts of your own home. If you are craving Korean BBQ, this should help scratch that itch! 🙂
If you make this recipe, comment below and let me know what you think! Also, don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram, because I WANNA SEE!!
Other Korean / Korean Inspired Recipe
- Spicy Baked Korean Chicken Wings
- Bibimbap Rice Bowl (by Cinnamon and Coriander)
- Korean Chicken Bao (by Kitchen Sanctuary)