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Bulgogi – Korean Marinated Beef (10-MINUTE Prep!)

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Prepared in 10 min, bulgogi is one of the most traditional Korean dishes, featuring a very thinly sliced and tender beef marinated in a sweet and savory sauce. Grill it on a charcoal barbecue or cook it in a cast iron pan for this extra smoky flavor.

Korean Beef bulgogi featuring a very thinly sliced and tender beef marinated in sweet and savoury sauce.

What is Bulgogi?

Literally, bul means “fire” while gogi means “meat”. So the term bulgogi 불고기 translates to “fire meat”. In Korea, the word bulgogi by itself refers to beef, however, it is also used in combination to designate pork or chicken. For those not knowing the Korean language, it can sometimes be confusing to read “pork bulgogi” or “chicken bulgogi”.

Bulgogi is one of the most popular Korean dishes that everyone familiar with Korean cuisine knows. It consists of thinly sliced beef marinated with onions in a sweet and savory sauce made of soy sauce, nashi pear, garlic, sugar, honey, mirin, sesame oil and black pepper.

I like using ribeye to make bulgogi but you can also use top sirloin which is another tender part of the beef. You can either purchase the meat already sliced from your Korean grocery store, or ask your butcher to slice it very thinly. I normally indicate to my butcher “please as thin as possible” or “sliced like ham” especially since here in Europe, customers obviously don’t often ask butchers for this type of cut – at least not at my butchery.

For the nashi pear, in case it is not available in your area, you can substitute it with kiwi or a combination of red apple and pear, which works also quite well to tenderize the meat and add sweetness.

Bulgogi is one of those dinners that I call “quick and yummy”. Aside from marinating time, you need about 10 min to prepare bulgogi. Once marinated, the beef can be cooked in different ways.

Typically grilled on a charcoal barbecue, this cooking method really adds depth and extra flavor. But you can also pan-fry bulgogi, the best is using a cast iron skillet which is a good compromise between bbq and a regular pan to obtain this smoky taste. If not, you can totally use a regular pan, your beef will simply release more of the marinade juice and you won’t get the smoky grilled flavor, but your bulgogi will still be tasty regardless.

Kimchi is the most popular banchan (side dish) to accompany bulgogi. And if you’ve got enough kimchi, you can whip up some kimchi pancakes for a delightful appetizer! 🙂

How to prepare Bulgogi?

  1. Crush the garlic, grate the nashi pear, and slice the onion and the green onions.
  1. Prepare the marinade by combining all marinade ingredients together.
  1. Chop the beef into large strips (+- 2cm). Add the beef to the marinade and massage it well. Add the onion to the marinade and beef and massage again. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  1. Heat up a pan on medium-high with some cooking oil, then add the beef and the green onions. Cook the marinated beef for about 5min or until cooked. You could also use a Korean barbecue to cook the beef.
  1. Once ready, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Korean Beef bulgogi featuring a very thinly sliced and tender beef marinated in sweet and savoury sauce.

More quick & easy marinated meat dinner?

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Korean Beef bulgogi featuring a very thinly sliced and tender beef marinated in sweet and savoury sauce.

Bulgogi

Prepared in 10 minutes, bulgogi is one of the most traditional Korean dishes, featuring a very thinly sliced and tender beef marinated in a sweet and savory sauce. Grill it on a charcoal barbecue or cook it in a cast iron pan for this extra smoky flavor.
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Korean
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories per serving: 823kcal
Author: Emma Choi

Ingredients

  • 450 g beef | ribeye or top sirloin
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • cooking oil

Marinade for the beef:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ nashi pear | or ½ kiwi or ⅛ red apple + ⅛ pear
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Crush the garlic, grate the nashi pear, and slice the onion and the green onions.
  • Prepare the marinade by combining all marinade ingredients together.
  • Chop the beef into large strips (+- 2cm). Add the beef to the marinade and massage it well. Add the onion to the marinade and beef and massage again. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30min.
  • Heat up a pan on medium-high with some cooking oil, then add the beef and the green onions. Cook the marinated beef for about 5min or until cooked. You could also use a Korean barbecue to cook the beef.
  • Once ready, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Notes

1. Nashi pear can be substituted by 1/2 kiwi or by 1/8 red apple (such as Gala) + 1/8 pear which also works well to tenderize the beef and add a sweet flavor.
2. Bulgogi is also great cooked on a Korean barbecue.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 823kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 43gFat: 54gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 3gCholesterol: 160mgSodium: 1819mgPotassium: 848mgFiber: 3gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 130IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 117mgIron: 6mg
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