Healthy Beef Bulgogi Recipe
Easy Korean BBQ Beef Bulgogi
What will be for dinner? This dish is for you if you feel like you always respond the same way to that question. Because “Korean barbeque” is not the same answer you got last time! Even in Korea, bulgogi is seen as a celebratory meal.
The ease of preparation of bulgogi is another appealing feature. Only a few ingredients make up the marinade, yet they combine to create a mouthwatering flavor. And it only takes a few minutes to fry the thin steak slices!
So, let’s get started! It’s time to include this delicious supper in your menu and give everyone a delightful treat.
What is Beef Bulgogi?
The Korean phrase for “fire meat,” pronounced pool-goh-gee, is “bulgogi.” You could say that answers all your questions, don’t you think? This mouthwatering Korean barbecue dish is made with thin, marinated beef strips that are cooked on a grill pan in our instance due to lack of a grill.
Bulgogi is a common restaurant menu item in Korea, and customers frequently eat at outside tables with built-in grills in the middle. The marinated meat is served to the table so that visitors can grill it themselves and enjoy it hot off the grill! awesome, no?
This is actually a really simple and truly delicious recipe! The combination of ingredients may seem a bit unusual, but trust me, it will turn out super tasty. DO NOT SKIP the pear. 😊
- Steak: For this recipe, I use flank steak.
- Pear: You’ll need about ¼ grated pear to add that classic bulgogi sweetness to the marinade.
- Soy Sauce: I usually go for low-sodium soy sauce; you can also substitute tamari or coconut aminos.
- Garlic: Finely mince two tablespoons of fresh garlic.
- Gochugaru: If you can find it, one tablespoon of gochugaru adds a smoky, fruity heat to the marinade. If you don’t have gochugaru, feel free to substitute crushed red pepper flakes.
- Ginger: Grate up a tablespoon of fresh ginger.
- Brown Sugar: You’ll need one tablespoon of light brown sugar for this recipe; you could also use raw sugar, honey, or even maple syrup.
- Sesame Oil: Just a tablespoon.
- Vegetable Oil: For sautéing the meat.
- Sesame Seeds & Chopped Green Onions: For garnish.
What Kind of Meat to Use for Beef Bulgogi
I like to use flank steak for beef bulgogi, as you can see above. However, any tender steak cut will work. Ribeye, New York strip, and top sirloin are all excellent choices.
Chuck eye steaks, which are comparable to ribeye steaks but frequently less priced, are another option. Other chuck cuts or steaks are not suggested for braising. While those cuts cook quite tenderly when cooked slowly, they don’t fare well when grilled or pan-fried.
What is Gochugaru?
Gochugaru, a traditional component of Korean cuisine, is created from crushed dried peppers. The peppers are first stripped of their seeds, dried, then ground into a coarse, dark red powder. The flavor is thick and deep, with a smokey flavor and some spice.
How to Make Beef Bulgogi
This dish calls for putting a lot of little pieces of steak into a hot skillet, so be careful! It may hurt a little bit if the hot oil spatters, which is likely to happen. To avoid having to come too near with my hands, I prefer to use tongs for this task.
- Slice & Marinate Steak: Thinly slice your flank steak across the grain; transfer the slices to a large zip top bag. Add the grated pear, soy sauce, garlic, gochugaru, ginger, brown sugar and sesame oil; seal the bag and squish everything around to completely coat the meat with the marinade. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or put it in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
- Cook First Batch: After the meat has marinated, heat up 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove half of the steak from the marinade and arrange it in the pan in a single layer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned. Flip over and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until browned with crisp edges.
- Cook Second Batch: Transfer the cooked steak to a plate and repeat the cooking steps with the remaining oil and steak.
- Enjoy! Garnish your bulgogi with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, and serve immediately.
Tips for Success
This super fast and truly flavorful entree is very easy to make, especially when you’ve learned a few little tricks. Keep reading for my best insights about how to make great beef bulgogi!
- Don’t Crowd the Skillet: Be sure not to crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and get soupy instead of browned. Cook in batches.
- Count on Cast Iron: The best bulgogi is made on a smoking-hot grill, but you can easily create a similar taste using a cast iron grill pan, or just a plain cast iron skillet. Make sure to get it nice and hot before cooking, and cook small batches at a time to avoid overcrowding.
- The Freezer’s Your Friend: Another important part of making great bulgogi is slicing the meat really thin. The sharper your knife, the better, of course! But, did you know that you can also freeze the meat just a tad in order to cut it more easily? That’s right! Freeze your steak for just about 20 minutes, and it will be much easier to slice.
- Double Up: This is a perfect recipe to double so that you can have an easy meal in the freezer for later! While you’re slicing and marinating the meat, just make twice as much and throw the extra meat with its marinade into a freezer bag. Press out most of the air, leaving just a bit of room for the liquid to expand, and freeze for up to three weeks. Thaw overnight before cooking.
Bulgogi Serving Suggestions
Beef bulgogi is delicious all on its own, or with big Romaine lettuce leaves for wrapping and munching, taco-style. But you can also set up a table of tasty sides, if you’d like! Here are a few great options.
- Rice: Rice goes super well with this tasty beef dish, especially my Instant Pot Jasmine Rice! The fragrance of jasmine rice is just out of this world.
- Sweet Potato Wedges: This is an excellent, healthy side that feels like an indulgence! Try my Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges for a dish that brings lots of texture, flavor, and a touch of sweetness to your table.
- Shrimp: Surf ‘n’ Turf but in a whole new way! I love making a batch of easy Bang Bang Shrimp to go with any Asian-inspired meal.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Beef bulgogi is easy to refrigerate or freeze for later enjoyment. Here’s how!
- To Refrigerate: Place the beef and sauce in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- To Freeze: Place leftovers in a freezer bag and press out as much air as possible before sealing. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Frozen beef will last for up to 2 months.
- To Reheat: Place the meat and sauce into a covered skillet over low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through; do not overcook.
Tender slices of flank steak are marinated with fresh pear, ginger, garlic and soy sauce in this amazing Korean Beef Bulgogi!
- Thinly slice steak across the grain; transfer sliced steak to a large zip top bag. You can also use a large mixing bowl.
- To the zip top bag add grated pear, soy sauce, garlic, gochugaru, ginger, brown sugar, and sesame oil; seal the bag and squish everything around to completely coat the meat with the marinade.
- Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, OR put in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
- When ready to cook, heat up 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a grill pan or cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Remove one-third of the steak slices from the marinade and add to the hot oil in a single layer; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned.
- Flip over and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until browned with crisp edges. Stir occasionally. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steak.
- Transfer cooked pieces to a plate and repeat the above cooking steps with remaining oil and steak.
- Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
Korean Beef Bulgogi
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g: 28%
Saturated Fat 9g: 45%
Cholesterol 85mg: 28%
Sodium 641mg: 27%
Potassium 590mg: 17%
Carbohydrates 8g: 3%
Fiber 1g: 4%
Sugar 4g: 4%
Protein 32g: 64%
Vitamin A 596IU: 12%
Vitamin C 2mg: 2%
Calcium 50mg: 5%
Iron 3mg: 17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.