Korean Beef Bulgogi

Beef Bulgogi is a staple at many asian restaurants. Marinate steak with soy sauce, Korean spicy paste, garlic and pears to create a flavorful Korean BBQ dish. Serve it with rice, lettuce leaves or our cucumber salad recipe for a complete restaurant-style meal.

Picture of cooked Beef Bulgogi on a white dish surrounded by rice and lettuce.

Beef Bulgogi

Beef Bulgogi is one of the most popular main dish meals at most Korean/Asian restaurants, with good reason. From the flavorful marinade and ease of cooking, this Beef Bulgogi recipe replicates the highly sought after meal in under an hour, including marinating time.

Beef Bulgogi is commonly referred to as Korean Beef Barbecue, which translates “fire” and “meat”. It’s traditionally grilled on a charcoal grill or pan-fried on a griddle, which is the cooking method we’re highlighting below. We also cook on a hot rock when we’re in the mood. 

We create a healthy lettuce wrap with our Beef Bulgogi. Add a small bit of rice to a leaf of red lettuce and squirt with an extra dollop of Gochujang. You can also forgo the lettuce wrap route and serve alongside the rice and cucumber salad. 

Cooked Beef Bulgogi in a lettuce cup on a wood platter.

Beef Bulgogi Recipe Tips:

  1. You want to slice the meat as thin as possible across the grain. We recommend putting the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes to make it easier to cut thin strips. Or you can ask your butcher to do it for you (preferrably about 1/8″ thick).
  2. Asian pears are traditionally used in a Beef Bulgogi recipe, however they can be difficult to find in smaller regions or off season. Feel free to use Bosc pear instead, which are readily available year round.
  3. Gochujang is a Korean BBQ sauce condiment with a sweet and spicy flavor. We purchase Gochujang from Amazon. The small amount utilized won’t necessarily add spice to the final product, however will add a ton of flavor. You can use your preferred Asian hot chili sauce if you don’t want to splurge on Gochunjang. Think Sriracha with a teaspoon of brown sugar to mimic the flavor. 
  4. Beef Bulgogi is typically made with rib-eye or top sirloin but we prefer flank steak. It’s easy to cut and less expensive than rib-eye. It’s also a leaner cut of beef.
  5. The goal is to sear the beef to get a nice caramelization. Friendly tips to ensure the beef doesn’t steam:
    • Transfer the beef from the marinate bowl to the pan with tongs, to minimize marinade drippings. 
    • Ensure the pan is fully pre-heated and hot so the meat sizzles upon first touch.
    • Don’t overcrowd the pan – work in batches to ensure a single layer of beef cooks at a time. If overlapping or too close, the beef will steam and lack the caramelization we’re going for.

Bowl of Beef Bulgogi ingredients including soy sauce, garlic, green onions and spices.

WINE PAIRING FOR KOREAN BEEF BULGOGI:

Due to the sweet and spicy profile, you can throw the “red wine goes with beef” rule out the window. You want a red wine with high acidity, but low in tannins like a Lambrusco or light Shiraz. Less “heavy and earthy” is the way to go. If you prefer a white wine go with a Dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. A not-so-dry Pinot Gris would also work.

 

OTHER ASIAN RECIPES:

Easy 10 Minute Egg Drop Soup

Chinese Fried Rice with Beef and Vegetables

Spicy Cucumber Salad Recipe

Sticky Asian Oven Baked Chicken Wings

Spicy Orange Grilled Chicken Wings

 

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Close up of Cooked Beef Bulgogi in a lettuce cup on a wood platter.

Pinterest image of raw beef bulgogi and cooked beef bulgogi in a lettuce cup.

Picture of cooked Beef Bulgogi on a white dish surrounded by rice and lettuce.

Print Recipe
Korean Beef Bulgogi
Beef Bulgogi is a staple at many asian restaurants thanks thanks to its sweet, slightly spicy and smokey flavor profile. Beef is marinated with soy sauce, Korean spicy paste, garlic and pears to create a flavorful Korean BBQ dish. Serve with rice, lettuce leaves or our cucumber salad recipe.
Picture of cooked Beef Bulgogi on a white dish surrounded by rice and lettuce.
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Prep Time 10 Minutes
Cook Time 15 Minutes
Passive Time 1 Hour
Servings
4 People
Ingredients
  • 1 Lbs Flank Steak (*Note 1)
  • 1 Pear (*Note 2)
  • 1/2 Small white onion
  • 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion (Thinly Sliced)
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce (*Note 3)
  • 2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp Gochujang (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to Taste)
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds (to taste)
Prep Time 10 Minutes
Cook Time 15 Minutes
Passive Time 1 Hour
Servings
4 People
Ingredients
  • 1 Lbs Flank Steak (*Note 1)
  • 1 Pear (*Note 2)
  • 1/2 Small white onion
  • 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 Stalk Green Onion (Thinly Sliced)
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce (*Note 3)
  • 2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp Gochujang (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to Taste)
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds (to taste)
Picture of cooked Beef Bulgogi on a white dish surrounded by rice and lettuce.
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Rating: 0
You:
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Instructions
  1. OPTIONAL STEP: Freeze the steak for 30 minutes before slicing across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  2. Add the pear to the blender and set aside when puréed. Repeat with the onion. Don't have a blender? Use the fine side of a cheese grater.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of the pear purée and 1/4 cup of the onion purée to a large bowl. Add the garlic, green onions, soy sauce, brown sugar, dark sesame oil, Gochujang and black pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Add the sliced beef to the marinade and marinate for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.
  5. COOKING: Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a cast iron grill or pan and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the steak in a single layer to the pan. Cook and flip once until cooked throughout (approx. 2-3 minutes per side). Repeat with remaining steak.
  6. Garnished with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Note 1- See tips above for recommended cuts of beef.

Note 2- See tips above for recommended pear varietals.

Note 3 - If using low sodium soy sauce, add a pinch of salt to the marinade.

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