BULGOGI KOREAN BBQ BEEF is one of the most well-known Korean dishes. Made of thinly sliced beef sirloin marinated in a mix of soy sauce, sesame seeds, garlic, sugar, pureed pear and other spices, this extra flavorful beef is easy to prepare and goes perfectly with rice or in Lettuce Wraps with Kimchi.
One of my favorite ways to eat this Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef is wrapped up. Check out these other wrap recipes for more inspiration Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps, Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tangy Cabbage Slaw, and Peanut Miso Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles.Jump to Recipe
WHAT IS (BULGOGI) KOREAN BBQ BEEF?
Bulgogi, which literally translates to “fire meat”, is thinly sliced beef that has been marinated and then grilled on a bbq or stove-top griddle. Unlike many Asian dishes, Bulgogi is not spicy. Instead, you will find this Korean BBQ beef to be sweet and somewhat savory thanks to the sesame oil and ginger used in the marinade. Due to its more neutral flavor, Bulgogi is loved by people of all ages.
Just ask my 4-year-old. It’s his new favorite beef recipe.
KOREAN BBQ BEEF BULGOGI MARINADE INGREDIENTS
These are several different versions of this marinade in cookbooks, across the internet, passed down from generation to generation…
However, there are several key ingredients that are (most-likely) found in all Bulgogi marinades.
- Soy sauce.
- Sugar- white sugar, brown sugar, honey. Everyone has a favorite.
- Sesame oil.
- Pear (see below)
TIPS FOR MAKING AMAZING BULGOGI KOREAN BBQ BEEF
- Marinate your meat. Seriously, you guys. I know it’s hard to remember this step, but if you can, just do it. The result will be so much more flavorful!
- Don’t skimp on quality (rib eye, sirloin, chuck).
- Remeber the pear. Pear is used to tenderize the meat. If you can find an Asian pear (Nashi pear) even better, otherwise, substitute with a regular pear, Fuji apple, or even a Kiwi.
- Make sure your skillet is HOT.
- DO NOT COOK THE MEAT IN THE LIQUID. Use tongs to remove the marinated bbq beef from the ziplock bag and leave the marinade behind. Otherwise, you are steaming/boiling the meat in the delicious marinade liquid. Will it still taste delicious? Absolutely. Will it taste how it should? No.
Given the name of this dish, you may think it a good idea to grill or bbq this on an actual our door grill. I’m not going to say that’s a bad idea as I have never tried that method personally, however, I urge you to reconsider. In order to be “traditional” Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef, your meat needs to be sliced…thin.
Imagine that for a quick sec on an outdoor bbq or grill.
I mean, I’m no grill master or Bulgogi master, but I’m thinking the smarter way to prepare this meat is in a skillet.
Of course, use your favorite. No need to rush out and buy a brand new, fancy-schmancy skillet. However, just in case you are at all curious what I would recommend, here they are-
Do I recommend a non-stick pan? Not really. It’s just not how this delicious meat was prepared 1000 years ago. But, if that’s what you have, roll with it. Just PLEASE, never EVER NEVER use metal on non-stick pans.
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Bulgogi is a traditional Korean BBQ Beef marinated in soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds, and pureed pear to tenderize and soften the meat. This authentic Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef Recipe is given its own unique twist by serving it with butter lettuce, Kimchi, pickled red onions, and goechujung.
- 2 pounds thinly sliced sirloin (top sirloin or any tender loin area)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup rice cooking wine red wine is OK
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
- 1/2 large pear pureed
- sesame oil for frying
Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Set aside.
Transfer the thinly sliced sirloin to a large plastic ziplock bag and cover with the prepared marinade. Remove all air from the ziplock bag and mix well to incorporate the marinade in with the beef.
Marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
When ready to cook, heat a large cast iron skillet or cast iron grill (or frying pan of choice) over medium-high heat. Brush with sesame oil (or olive oil) and grill beef in a single layer until fully cooked (approximately 4-5 minutes). Repeat this process until all meat has been cooked.
Serve with butter lettuce, Korean Kimchi, pickled red onions, and fresh micro greens. Top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
If you can't find thinly sliced beef sirloin at your local market, simply place your beef in the freezer for one hour and allow it to freeze slightly. Remove from the freezer and, using a sharp knife, carefully slice the meat against the grain into slices approximately 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.