Korean-style marinated beef BBQ

Hi everybody!
I’m eventually posting a video for bulgogi today. I posted a simple bulgogi recipe a few years ago but it was without a video. Bulgogi is a Korean BBQ dish loved by Koreans and non-Koreans too. The savory beef combined with the sweet, gingery marinade is always a big hit. The word bul means fire in Korean, and goki means meat. So this is “fire meat!”

Delicious bulgogi depends on three things: a good cut of beef, a delicious marinade, and the method you use to cook it. So I am very pleased to release the best bulgogi recipe that I’ve ever made: it has all 3 of these elements.

First, a good cut of beef always makes for delicious bulgogi. I mentioned using steak in the video: sirloin, tenderloin, or skirt steak. But you still can make good bulgogi without these choice cuts. Whatever you use, it’s very important to choose tender, marbled beef: leaner cuts like brisket or flak steak will turn out too tough. Cut the beef thinly against the grain to make it easier to chew, and marinate overnight. The marinade will tenderize the beef and it’ll turn out delicious over a charcoal BBQ.

Secondly, the marinade: the marinade in this recipe is the best that I’ve yet developed. But as I’m constantly experimenting with marinades, I may still develop a better one! I’ll let you know if I do. Feel free to modify the ratios here to your taste, or develop your own marinade. If you do, let me know how it turns out. Also, if you can’t find a Korean pear, use ripe bosc pear: 1 small bosc pear for 1 pound of beef is good. It adds some lovely sweetness to the dish and is effective in the marinade.

Thirdly, when we talk about the best cooking methods, grilling over charcoal will always be the best. This is because the marinade, juices and fats drip off the meat onto the coals, burn up there, and then come back to the beef in a wonderful smoke that covers the meat with flavor. You can’t beat charcoal for bulgogi.

I was invited to my friend’s BBQ party in the Catskills in upstate New York a while ago. About 20 people got together and everybody brought something to grill. I prepared bulgogi beef, spicy pork, and bulgogi mushrooms for vegetarians. I was very excited to shoot the video because it would be a wonderful chance for you to see how you can enjoy Korean BBQ in the best conditions.

Everybody loved my bulgogi! Surprisingly my marinated bulgogi mushrooms got a lot of compliments, too. I was so satisfied to see their happy faces when they tasted it. I can imagine all of your happy faces when you share this with your friends and family.

Also, the recipe for the spicy pork BBQ in this video will be posted soon!


  • 1 pound of beef tenderloin, cut into thin slices ½ inch x 2 inches and ⅛ inch thick

Marinade (for 1 pound of beef):

  • ½ cup of crushed Korean pear (aka “Asian pear”)
  • ¼ cup onion purée
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar (or 1 tbs of brown sugar and 1½ tbs rice syrup)
  • a pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs toasted toasted sesame oil
  • several thin slices of carrot


Marinate the beef

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add the sliced beef and mix well.

Vegetarian option:

Use the same marinade above and replace beef with mushrooms. You’ll need 10-12 large dried shiitake mushrooms. Add a few white mushrooms if you like them.

  1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for several hours until they’re soft.
  2. Squeeze out any excess water and slice each mushroom thinly.
  3. Slice some white mushrooms, carrot, and onion.
  4. Mix all of it together in the marinade.

Grill and serve

  1. You can grill, pan-fry, or BBQ right after marinating, but it’s best to keep it in the fridge and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for a tougher cut of beef.
  2. Grill over medium-high heat. Best is over an open flame on a grill or cast iron grill pan or skillet, but stir-frying will also work, if that’s all you have.
  3. Serve with Korean side dishes (banchan) like kimchi as well as lettuce, ssamjang, and garlic cloves to make lettuce wraps, like I do in the video. Just put some meat on a lettuce leaf with some ssamjang and a clove of garlic, wrap it up and eat it in one bite! Everyone makes their own wrap, one by one, until they are finished.

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  1. ds143ms United States joined 3/13 & has 1 comment

    Hello my dear fellow Korean , alway so proud to see. Korean do good, you are. Life saver. ( food saver) lol, I have several questions . Please help
    1) when bbqing wouldn’t the meat fall into the grill ( since I do i not have. The BBQ companion) .
    2) I am gonna make this for my sons wedding rehearsal, (only Asian in the 100 mile radius, so they like my ” amerasian cooking, my om hated my i-noko cooking lol she use to laugh.) There any recommendation for cooking for large crowd?.

    3) why do you not use Mirin?

    I have to say thank you so much dear I am so proud of you I know you don’t know me from Jane but I am so glad I found you.

    Oh do you have any spicy Korean chicken BBQ I ate it at akorean restaurant it is good do you have a recipe for it I tried but can’t make it come close thank you again

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      ok, these are my answers.

      1) When I don’t use a charcoal companion or a grill topper, I usually place cooking foil on the grill and make tiny holes in it with fork. The holes are so tiny that the meat won’t fall into the grill and the flame will reach to the meat through the holes.

      2) Prepare as much as you can in advance. Marinate the beef, make ssamjang, make yangnyeomjang for pajeori and keep it all in the fridge. On the morning of the wedding rehearsal day, wash the lettuce, cut the cucumbers and carrots into thin strips. And shred the green onions and put it in a plastic bag.
      Check out my blog post about the New York kimchi contest. You will see how to prepare Korean BBQ for a big crowd: https://www.maangchi.com/blog/2010-nyc-kimchi-contest-report

      3) I don’t see much difference between using Mirin or not. If you want to, use Mirin.

      Good luck with your cooking for the big event! Let me know how it turns out!

  2. tatipark South Korea joined 3/13 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! Im your biggest fan! Im living in korea now and I will start to prepare delicious korean food with your help! :) I love 뚝배기 불고기. How about posting a video with this recipe?

  3. Nicole4ever Las Vegas, Nevada joined 2/11 & has 11 comments

    I made this last night for my kids and Husband. It was very good! Some of my family members thought it had too much garlic so next time 2 cloves instead. Hopefully it will still be as tasty. Going to try the other BBQ recipes since the weather is so warm in Las Vegas. Thank you :)

  4. Parkdaho Honey brooke ,Pa joined 8/12 & has 1 comment

    Why do you add carrot to your bulgogi?

  5. saucedpoppet USA joined 1/13 & has 1 comment

    Was going to ask about the pan and just saw it already asked and answered! SO my next question is,

    What type of knife do you use? Where could I find them? Thanks!!

    You are beautiful and bubbly, I love watching your videos :) This is also a terrible site to peruse while pregnant, I am craving ALL THE THINGS ;)

  6. Jacq Tempe, AZ joined 11/11 & has 4 comments

    Just wanted to say this Bulgogi recipe is AWESOME! I tried it twice now and cooked on my cast iron pan, the family loved it every time!

  7. agent_J Warsaw, Poland joined 6/10 & has 2 comments

    Is it feasible to use other type of beef than tenderloin ? Good quality tenderloin is prohibitively expensive.

  8. melikey United States joined 9/12 & has 2 comments

    Vegetarian bulgogi!!!! Genius! I usually love the bounty and variety of my mostly vegetarian diet, but there are a few meat dishes I miss. This is one.

    I find usually what I miss about the meat is the sauce, or the toppings or the flavor mixture, and I bet this is similar (not really the actual meat). It’s the marinade that really makes the bulgogi.

    Also, you look really pretty in this video : ) You always look pretty, but the braids really suit you! <3

  9. northstar Hawaii joined 11/12 & has 2 comments

    I will be making this at a bbq next week!! I can barely wait for the spicy bbq pork!! Thank you for sharing!!

  10. jennykoh Singapore joined 1/10 & has 27 comments

    Maangchi…u r so cute !!!

  11. Koreanlover Tempe, AZ joined 3/10 & has 2 comments

    It is great!!! I love watching you…. Keep up the great work and when I am on a crunch financially I like to use a cup of brown sugar, a cup of orange soda and a cup of soy sauce and put ginger and garlic and onion in it and use that as a marinade for bulgogi and other things. I use sesame oil for the pan when cooking the bulgogi. It is a universal marinade for beef pork and chicken. Try it believe me when I say it is very close if not exactly the same taste.

  12. oksipak California joined 1/11 & has 72 comments

    You have changed it a bit from your original recipe but my husband loves bulgogi so I’m going to try this recipe this coming week as he loves bulgogi. The new video is fun to watch! Thank you for sharing. :)

  13. Pri G Houston, TX joined 11/11 & has 4 comments

    Awesome recipe I can’t wait to try it! I love the pan you used for the bulgogi. What kind of pan is this? Also what kind of Korean side dishes would be good to serve with the bulgogi and spicy pork? I hope to try these recipes when you post the spicy pork recipe:)

  14. Knotan Sweden joined 10/12 & has 8 comments

    Bulgogi is my life <3

  15. scarryvictoria Singapore joined 2/11 & has 13 comments

    Wow! I’m drooling! Love bulgogi;D

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