Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) - Easy To Make

Bulgogi is a marinated meat dish made with thin slices of beef, usually rib eye. It is no doubt one of the most well-known Korean dishes to non-Koreans. During my recent work-related training, I met someone who lived in Korea for a year many years ago. She said she greatly misses the food she used to eat in Korea and asked me if I had a bulgogi recipe. I told her about my galbi (BBQ beef short ribs) recipe, and promised her that I would post a bulgogi recipe soon.

You can find pre-sliced bulgogi meat at Korean markets. Pay a little more to get quality meat with good marbling. If cutting the beef at home, partially freeze for about an hour to firm it up for easier slicing.

Although the same marinade can be used for both galbi and bulgogi, I tend to use more ingredients for galbi and marinate much longer in order to tenderize the tough and fatty cut of meat for grilling. Bulgogi on the other hand is thinly sliced, so I find all that tenderizing is unnecessary. The important thing is to find the right balance between saltiness and sweetness. Using generous amounts of garlic and sesame oil is as important to create authentic bulgogi. The same marinade also can be used for chicken or pork.

The best way to enjoy Korean BBQ meat is to wrap a bite size piece in a lettuce leaf with a dollop of ssamjang or doenjang (soybean paste).


Serves 4
Korean BBQ beef

2 pounds thinly sliced beef (rib eye or top sirloin)*
3 scallions cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small onion thinly sliced
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
2 tablespoons garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons grated Asian pear (optional)
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. If using packaged pre-sliced meat, separate the slices. Add the meat and vegetables to the marinade and toss gently to combine everything well. Marinate the meat for about an hour.
Grill on a charcoal or gas grill or pan fry in a skillet over high heat until slightly caramelized. Preheat and lightly oil with sesame oil before adding the meat. If pan frying, do not crowd the skillet.

*Pre-sliced bulgogi meat is sold at any Korean market. Pay a little more to get good quality meat. If cutting the beef at home, partially freeze for about an hour to firm it up for easier slicing. Cut across the grain into about 1/8-inch thick slices.
By Hyosun Ro

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