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Korean Beef Bulgogi (불고기)

5 from 10 votes
Published on 05/16/2024 by Umamiology
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Korean Beef Bulgogi (불고기) is a classic Korean grilled beef dish that highlights the notes of sweet soy, savory garlic and rich sesame oil essence. As the beef sizzles & caramelizes on the grill, it develops a robust charred exterior while retaining its tender, juicy texture within.

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One of the recurring stars of any Korean bbq is Korean beef bulgogi. It features thinly shaved ribeye steak that’s been marinated in that iconic sweet & savory Korean flavor paired with a deep garlic and sesame taste.

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And when you grill or pan-sear this bulgogi meat, it develops that nice caramelized char that brings it that indescribable umami flavor to this deliciously tender cut of beef.

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But you don’t have to go to a Korean bbq restaurant to get this mouth-watering dish – with this recipe, you can easily make it at home, in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Key Elements Of This Recipe

  • Shaved Ribeye Steak: You can get this at any butcher or Asian grocery store. You can even use thinly shaved shabu-shabu meat here as well.
  • Korean Pear: Adding Korean pear to the marinade gives the meat a distinctly fresh taste
  • Ginger: The addition of ginger really balances out the heaviness of the meat

The Ingredients for Korean Beef Bulgogi

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The Equipment Needed

How To Make Korean Beef Bulgogi

The steps to make Korean Beef Bulgogi (불고기) are really simple. You craft your marinade, soak your meat for at least 4 hours, then pan-sear or grill until it’s cooked to perfection. Once you start cooking, it’s a dish that can done in under 15 minutes.

Craft Your Beef Bulgogi Marinade

In your food processor, combine 1/2 of the chopped yellow onion, Korean pear, garlic cloves, ginger and soy sauce.

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Give it a good blend until the marinade achieves a chunky gravy consistency.

Marinate Your Beef

In a large mixing / marinating container, loosely place your sliced beef. (Make sure you separate the slices so that the marinade can touch as much of the surface area of the meat as possible.)

Marinating the beef in stages is important to ensure even infusion of flavor.

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Stage 1: Add in your agave nectar and brown sugar – and mix it into the meat. Let it sit for 5 minutes. This allows the sweet flavor to penetrate the meat first.

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Stage 2: Pour in your bulgogi marinade and give everything a good mix. This blends in the savory flavors into the meat. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Stage 3: Lastly, add in the remaining sliced yellow onions, chopped green onions, mirin and sesame oil and mix one last time. (Add in your Korean red pepper flakes here too if you’d like – this is optional.)

Cover with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (but preferably over night).

Grill Your Beef Bulgogi

Traditional Korean bbq calls for grilling the meat on a steel grilling pan but for home cooking, I’d recommend the following method of cooking the beef bulgogi meat.

Take a medium sized skillet or wok and add a small layer of sesame oil to the bottom. Add in your sliced carrots and let it fry for a couple of minutes.

Then take the marinated bulgogi meat and put it into the skillet and stir fry.

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When the meat has developed a nice char, add in about 1/3 cup of the marinade and then give everything another toss in the skillet.

Continue to stir fry until the marinade reduces by about 1/2 – then remove from heat, plate in a wide bowl and sprinkle on a dash of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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Korean Beef Bulgogi (불고기)

5 from 10 votes
Korean Beef Bulgogi (불고기) is a classic Korean grilled beef dish that highlights the notes of sweet soy, savory garlic and rich sesame oil essence. As the beef sizzles & caramelizes on the grill, it develops a robust charred exterior while retaining its tender, juicy texture within.
Author: Umamiology
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 14 minutes
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound Boneless Ribeye Steak, (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 Carrot, (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup Green Onion, (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds

Bulgogi Marinade

Instructions 

How To Make Korean Beef Bulgogi

  • The steps to make Korean Beef Bulgogi (불고기) are really simple. You craft your marinade, soak your meat for at least 4 hours, then pan-sear or grill until it's cooked to perfection. Once you start cooking, it's a dish that can done in under 15 minutes.

Craft Your Beef Bulgogi Marinade

  • In your food processor, combine 1/2 of the chopped yellow onion, Korean pear, garlic cloves, ginger and soy sauce.
  • Give it a good blend until the marinade achieves a chunky gravy consistency.

Marinate Your Beef

  • In a large mixing / marinating container, loosely place your sliced beef. (Make sure you separate the slices so that the marinade can touch as much of the surface area of the meat as possible.)
  • Marinating the beef in stages is important to ensure even infusion of flavor.
  • Stage 1: Add in your agave nectar and brown sugar – and mix it into the meat. Let it sit for 5 minutes. This allows the sweet flavor to penetrate the meat first.
  • Stage 2: Pour in your bulgogi marinade and give everything a good mix. This blends in the savory flavors into the meat. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Stage 3: Lastly, add in the remaining sliced yellow onions, chopped green onions, mirin and sesame oil and mix one last time. (Add in your Korean red pepper flakes here too if you'd like – this is optional.)
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (but preferably over night).

Grill Your Beef Bulgogi

  • Traditional Korean bbq calls for grilling the meat on a steel grilling pan but for home cooking, I'd recommend the following method of cooking the beef bulgogi meat.
  • Take a medium sized skillet or wok and add a small layer of sesame oil to the bottom. Add in your sliced carrots and let it fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Then take the marinated bulgogi meat and put it into the skillet and stir fry.
  • When the meat has developed a nice char, add in about 1/3 cup of the marinade and then give everything another toss in the skillet.
  • Continue to stir fry until the marinade reduces by about 1/2 – then remove from heat, plate in a wide bowl and sprinkle on a dash of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 289kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 18gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 1139mgPotassium: 340mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 908IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 2mg

*Nutritional information is just an estimate derived by an online calculation tool.

FAQ

What is Korean bulgogi made of?

Bulgogi is thinly shaved ribeye steak meat that has been marinated in sweet and savory Korean meat sauce and char grilled or stir fried with sliced onions.

What is the best meat for Korean bulgogi?

Shaved ribeye steak meat is traditionally used, but you can also use thinly shaved shabu-shabu meat here as well.

What does bulgogi taste like?

Bulgogi has notes of sweet soy, savory garlic and rich sesame oil. As the beef sizzles & caramelizes on the grill, it develops a robust charred exterior while retaining its tender, juicy texture within.

Share this recipe!