Enjoy a delicious home-cooked Korean meal with this easy beef bulgogi recipe!
Thin slices of flank steak are marinated in Korean BBQ sauce and grilled to charred perfection. Delish!
If you have the same five dishes in your weekly meal rotation, may I suggest you level up your menu with this recipe?
In case you didn’t know, beef bulgogi is actually super easy to make. You don’t need to be an expert Korean chef to pull it off.
With just some beef, a simple marinade, and the grill, anybody can make delicious beef bulgogi. Read on to learn how.
What is Beef Bulgogi?
From the Korean words, “bul,” meaning fire and “gogi,” meaning meat, bulgogi literally translates to fire-cooked meat.
This traditional Korean dish is made of meat marinated in a sweet and savory BBQ-like sauce and grilled to smoky and juicy perfection.
Different meats can be used to make bulgogi, such as chicken and pork.
The most commonly used, however, are thin slices of beef.
Using this kind of meat makes for a super tender, moist, and juicy bulgogi.
Plus, because the meat is so thin, it cooks right up in just a few minutes.
- Steak – Use flank steak for tender and flavorful meat. You can also use sirloin, tenderloin, and skirt steak. The important thing is to use marbled, not lean, beef.
- Soy Sauce – The base of the marinade. This Asian staple offers a uniquely salty and umami-rich flavor.
- Sugar – A little bit of sweetness to balance out the umami-ness. I use white sugar in this recipe, but brown sugar works, too. In fact, it’ll provide a deeper, caramelized flavor to the beef.
- Green onion and Garlic – For aromatics.
- Sesame Seeds and Sesame Oil – For a sweet and nutty aroma and flavor.
- Pepper – To taste.
What is the Best Cut of Beef for Bulgogi?
Traditional beef bulgogi uses flank steak, although you can also use other cuts such as skirt steak, ribeye, and tenderloin.
The important thing is to use marbled beef. Lean cuts will yield tough bulgogi.
You can also use ground beef if you’re pressed for time. With this alternative, there’s no need to marinade beforehand.
Just cook the beef with the marinade and voila.
You can slice the meat yourself, but I prefer buying pre-sliced meat from the Asian grocery. It’s just so much easier that way!
It’s super convenient, and I don’t have to worry about butchering the beef.
When shopping for bulgogi beef, get the ones that are sliced about 1/8-inch thick.
If you can’t pre-sliced beef or prefer to slice it yourself, here’s a tip: freeze the beef 10 minutes before slicing.
It’ll make the beef a lot easier to cut.
Slice the meat thin against the grain. Use a sharp knife for the best results.
How to Make Beef Bulgogi
It’s a lot easier than you think!
1. Make the marinade.
In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, green onion, sugar, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and pepper.
2. Marinate the steak.
Place thinly-sliced flank steak in a shallow dish and pour the marinade in. Be sure each piece gets coated in the marinade nicely.
Cover the dish and refrigerate it for at least an hour. For the best results, marinate the beef overnight.
3. Grill the beef.
Grill the flank steak on high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
It should be cooked all the way through with a slight char on the outside.
4. Serve and enjoy!
Beef bulgogi is best eaten with steamed white rice and kimchi on the side.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Beef Bulgogi
- Help tenderize the beef by adding a few slices of Korean pears to the marinade. If you can’t find it anywhere, kiwi and onions make great alternatives.
- Marinate the beef overnight for the best flavor.
- The most authentic way to cook beef bulgogi is to grill it over charcoal. When the marinade and juices drip onto the coals, they burn and rise back up to the beef. The beef absorbs it, giving it a nice smokey flavor.
- Be sure the grill is hot enough that the beef sizzles once it touches it. If the heat is too low, the juices will leak out of the meat, resulting in a stew.
- No grill, no problem! You can also cook beef bulgogi in a cast-iron skillet on high heat. Cook the beef for 4 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Cook in small batches to ensure the pan retains its heat.
What to Serve with Beef Bulgogi
- Beef bulgogi is best served over a bed of steaming white rice. Top the dish with scallions and sesame seeds to make it extra pretty and enjoy!
- If you want a heftier dish, turn it into a full rice bowl! Top the rice with beef bulgogi, kimchi, sliced vegetables, avocado, mushroom, or whatever leftovers you have hanging in the fridge. Don’t forget to top it all off with a runny fried egg. It’s the perfect cherry on top.
- For a low-calorie meal, make lettuce wraps. Fill a lettuce cup with rice, beef bulgogi, and gochujang (red bean paste), and devour in one bite.
How to Store Beef Bulgogi
Once cooled, store leftover beef bulgogi in an air-tight container and refrigerate it for up to 4 days.
Reheat it in the microwave or in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through.
Can You Freeze Beef Bulgogi?
Yes, you can.
Once cooled, transfer the dish into a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Thaw it in the fridge overnight and reheat it in the microwave or in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through.
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