Where’s the beef?
If you have ever been interested in trying Korean cuisine, Bulgogi is the by far the most popular dish to get started.Unlike many Korean dishes, Bulgogi is not spicy. It’s sweet and savory with intense flavors of garlic and onions. The preferred method of cooking is to grill the marinated beef over hardwood coals; adding to the depth of flavor. Pretty much every Korean restaurant in the US or in Korea will have some form of an open coal pit to cook the meat at the table.
What is Bulgogi?
The literal translation of Bulgogi is “fire meat”. The term refers to marinated meat, cooked using traditional grilling techniques. The traditional cooking methods involved using metal grates or perforated dome griddles that sit on braziers. Bulgogi refers to any marinated meat that is cooked over coals, not just beef. There are versions involving pork and chicken as well. The cooked meat is typically served with rice or wrapped in lettuce with a spicy, pepper sauce. It you want to try this delicious dish, you don’t need to head to a restaurant to try it. It is easy to make at home.
Some Tips on Making Bulgogi at Home
In Korean grocery stores, you can buy beef sirloin already sliced thinly. It’s a bit expensive. It’s much more economical to buy an entire sirloin and slice it down yourself. To help make this easier, freeze the meat slightly (about an hour). Then with a sharp knife, cut the beef across the grain in pieces about ½ inch x 2 inches and ⅛ inch thick. You can use other types of beef for this recipe. I’ve used ribeye or bottom roasts before…whatever is on sale. If the cut of beef is lean/tough, you’ll need to marinade it longer.
I like my Bulgogi on the sweet side. But, you can can decrease the sugar amount if you wish. Some recipes also have pureed Asian pear as an ingredient. The pear adds sweetness and helps to tenderize the meat. I have added the pear on occasion, but it’ s a seasonal item and very expensive.
Also, my version has fresh ginger. I love ginger and seek an opportunity to add it to any of my dishes that feature soy sauce. It’s optional. Feel free to omit if you are not a ginger fan.It’s not a typical ingredient, but the Korean BBQ police have not arrested me yet 😉
You do not have to cook Bulgogi over coals. Granted, it’s super tasty this way, but using a skillet on high heat works well. I have used both methods of cooking, depending on the weather. Either way, it’s delicious!
- 2 tbs of soy sauce
- 3 tbs of water
- 1 lb of beef tenderloin, thinly sliced across the grain
- 2 tbs of sugar
- 1 tbs of sesame oil
- 1 tbs of toasted sesame seeds
- 2 chopped green onions
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- ½ tsp of black pepper
- 1 tbs chopped fresh ginger (optional)
- Mix the ingredients to make a marinade.
- Add the marinade to the sliced beef and let it sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes up to overnight.
- To cook:
- Heat up a large skillet on high heat.
- Cook the beef in small batches, searing the meat and caramelizing the juices.
- Transfer the beef to a platter and garnish with sliced green onions.