Learn how to make restaurant style beef bulgogi at home; sweet, smoky, and perfectly grilled. Ready in minutes and sure to impress!
It’s no secret we are huge fans of Asian cuisine.
However, when we whip up a fresh batch of bulgogi sauce, bulgogi beef is on the menu!
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What is bulgogi?
Bulgogi is a combination of two Korean words, “Bul” meaning “fire” and “Gogi”, which translates to “meat”. Hence, this dish is famously called “fire meat.” The name reflects the way this traditional Korean dish is cooked.
When making traditional bulgogi, thin slices of beef, chicken, or pork are cooked on a grill after marinating them in some bulgogi sauce.
The best bulgogi recipe
After spending time in Korea, I made it a mission to recreate the famous beef bulgogi and keep it as authentic as possible. Honestly, this truly tastes like authentic Korean food that you’d find at any good restaurant.
- Full of flavor. The marinade provides a blend of flavors and gets a smoky flavor during cooking, making it super flavorful.
- Quick and easy. With very little hands-on time, this recipe comes together quickly.
- Works with ground beef. While thinly sliced steak is preferred, this works just as well with ground beef.
- Customizable. While rice is a popular serving suggestion, it tastes delicious over some noodles too.
You’ll love the simple and easy ingredient list for such a flavorful and delicious recipe. Here is what you’ll need:
- Beef steak. Denver, ribeye, sirloin, or skirt steak are the best cuts to use.
- Bulgogi sauce. Skip the expensive store-bought options and make your own at home- it’s so easy and tastes so much better.
- Oil. Just a touch of any neutral flavored oil to help with cooking. There is already some sesame oil in the actual sauce/marinade.
- Onions. Trimmed and sliced.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
How to make beef bulgogi?
This recipe is very simple and follows a simple 3-step process. I recommend prepping the sauce and beef in advance, so there is minimal hands-on time. Ready to make some bulgogi?
Step 1- Freeze and slice the beef
Start by freezing the beef to make it easier to cut and a way to tenderize it. To do this, cover the beef in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour until partially frozen. After this time, use a sharp knife to slice it up.
Step 2-Marinate the beef
Next, add the sliced beef, bulgogi sauce, oil, and onions to a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix well. Let everything sit for 5 minutes, but if you have extra time, you can marinate it for four hours.
Step 3- Cook the bulgogi
Now, cook the beef. Add a touch of oil to a non-stick pan, skillet, or barbecue. Once hot, add the beef and cook for 30-40 seconds before moving it around until tender, which usually takes around 4 minutes.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Use good quality beef from a butcher, not a mainstream grocery store. The latter tend to use less than stellar cuts of meat that often contains sinew, bones, and excess fat.
- While the beef can be cooked on a skillet or stovetop, try to use a barbecue when possible. It provides the quickest sear and natural smoky flavor.
- For the best flavor, marinate the beef for at least an hour, or overnight. This really lets the flavor seep into the beef.
To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to five days.
To freeze: Place the cooled leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheating: It’s best to reheat the beef on a hot skillet or non-stick pan.
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Frequently Asked Questions
As beef bulgogi is super flavorful, it’s best to pair it with some steamed rice (we like instant pot brown rice or jasmine rice) or, for something fun, baked sushi or some sushi rice. We sometimes serve it over Korean spicy noodles.
While this dish has some spice elements, it has more of a sweet and umami flavor. However, you can adjust the spice level by adding some hot sauce or Korean chili sauce, gochujang.
Per serving, there are just 334 calories. Adjust the calorie count to compensate for rice or side dishes.
- Place the beef in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for at least an hour. Once firm, use a sharp knife to slice it into 1/4-inch strips.
- In a mixing bowl, add the sliced beef, along with the bulgogi sauce, oil, and onions, then season with salt and pepper. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes, or up to two hours.
- Once ready to cook, add oil to a non-stick skillet and place it over hot heat. Once hot, add the beef and cook for 1-2 minutes, until seared on all sides.
- Transfer to a plate and cover with tin foil for 3 minutes. After that, serve immediately.
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