Bulgogi recipe authentic flavors with some great modern substitutes

Bulgogi is the most popular Korean Grilled BBQ Beef dish that is made from marinated thin slices of beef that’s traditionally grilled over an open flame. Flavors of sweet, salty and garlicky soy sauce with a hint of sesame oil.

A Little bit about bulgogi, Bulgogi has origins dating back thousands of years to the kingdom of Goguryeo (고구려 37 BC – 668 AD) which was in the form of beef grilled on skewers. Later in the 1800’s, with the introduction of metal grates, Koreans started to marinate thin cuts of beef and then grill on top of these gridirons. These were called Neobiahni Gui 너비아니 구이 which actually used thicker slices of beef than what is used today.

Here is the recipe and Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Thinly sliced sirloin (top sirloin or any tender loin area)

Marinade

  • 3 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs light brown sugar [white sugar ok]
  • 1 Tbs honey [ 2 t sugar is also ok ]
  • 2 Tbs rice cooking wine or red wine [mirin works too]
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbs chopped green onion
  • 2 Tbs pear, puree [ or 1 Tbs kiwi or 3 Tbs onion puree]

Cooking Instructions

  • Make sauce by mixing all of the marinade ingredients together except for any optional vegetables such as onions or mushrooms.
  • Mix in the bulgogi beef into the sauce prepared above – in a bowl big enough to hold the beef. Make sure the sauce is well mixed with the beef. You will need to use your hands here and just massage everything together.
  •  Heat up your favorite frying pan on high heat and just pan fry/stir fry the meat until it’s slightly brown on both sides. 

Notes

  • 2 Tbs pear puree can be substituted with 1 Tbs kiwi.
  • Pan should be hot enough so that the meat sizzles as it touches the pan. Also, if you put too much meat into the pan and/or the heat is too low, you will end up with a lot of the meat juice leaking out of the bulgogi and you end up with Bulgogi stew. 
  • The most authentic and traditional way to cook Bulgogi ( Korean Beef BBQ ) is on top of a charcoal grill- you will either need a fine steel mesh or tin foil to cook the meat because otherwise it will fall through. Bulgogi is supposed to be well cooked and tastes great if it’s a little burnt…
  • You can also broil it on the top rack of your oven (Broil temp) but remember to keep a very close watch so it does not burn!
  • Optional veggie ingredients – traditionally, Koreans just make bulgogi with beef by itself but if you are cooking it in a frying pan, you can add some sliced onions, mushrooms (shitake, white, oyster), bell peppers and even sliced carrots and cook them together.