Korean beef BBQ

Bulgogi 불고기

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.

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.

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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 marbled beef: leaner cuts like brisket 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.

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. I was absolutely thrilled 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!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of beef tenderloin, sliced thinly into pieces ½ inch x 2 inches and ⅛ inch thick

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Marinade (for 1 pound of beef):

  • ½ cup of crushed 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 sesame oil
  • several thin slices of carrot

Directions

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

for Vegetarians:
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.
  5. Grill, pan-fry, or BBQ.

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114 Comments:

  1. benedictlim joined 6/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi,
    May I know if I can substitute the beef with chicken. Can I use electric grill or grill pan on the stove to grill the meat?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,684 comments

      Yes, you can make chicken bulgogi. “Can I use electric grill or grill pan on the stove to grill the meat?” Yes, you can. Enjoy the recipe!

      • carms joined 6/15 & has 1 comment

        Hi,

        Ive made this recipe so many times and got praised for it every time. I absolutely love it!

        But I have a problem :(

        I’ve recently began to eat healthier and diet, and will be substituting beef with chicken. Will the pear still be needed for the chicken? If I leave it out, will it take away the tenderness and sweetness?

        Also, I feel like I might need to but back the sodium and sugar levels. Is there a way I can do that and still have this dish taste good?

  2. cdavis joined 5/15 & has 1 comment

    I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful recipe! I love everything BBQ and I love how I now expanded my BBQ knowledge to Bulgogi! I marinated some skirt steak but instead of the rice syrup, I used honey (couldn’t find rice syrup). You are right, the best way to grill is over coals! Once you get a nice sear, close the lid and put the meat on the other side of the coals and let the meat soak up some smoke. One of my favorites is a beef japache, so I made that to go with the Bulgogi.


    See full size image

  3. rocknchick Rockford, IL joined 12/14 & has 11 comments

    I’ve made a bunch of your recipes and loved them all, but have one question. When I made bulgogi, I used Perilla oil instead of toasted sesame oil. It turned out pretty good, but was a little more bland and light colored than I expected. Could that substitution have made the difference? We don’t like sesame oil, it’s too strong of a taste. Should we use sesame oil in cooking but use the Perilla when it’s in an uncooked sauce or drizzled on top of things?
    Also- your cookbook is fabulous! :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,684 comments

      If you don’t like sesame oil flavor, don’t use it. Perilla seed oil sounds good to me. “but was a little more bland and light colored than I expected.” I would add more brown sugar or honey and soy sauce.

  4. agailparsons joined 5/15 & has 1 comment

    I made this before I found your recipe for my husband who was stationed in South Korea in the military and he said it always tasted right. I’m glad to see your recipe is very close so I know I’m doing it right. I’ve even made up the meat and froze it for quick meals and it still tastes wonderful.

  5. DenverJJ joined 4/15 & has 1 comment

    I just made this. It was great!! I used to wait tables in a Korean restaurant (and had many meals there) so I was excited to make Bulgogi. The Asian pear was something new for me but I liked it. I eyeballed a small portion of onion, cut it up a bit and put it in the food processor. I did the same with the Asian pear, but a bigger piece. I added all the other ingredients and THEN I turned on the processor to mix and puree everything. It was very easy. I bought some thinly sliced rib eye at HMart, added it to the mariade to sit for about an hour and a half. I stir fried, then steamed veggies in a homemade teriyaki sauce (equal parts soy sauce and mirin with sliced ginger and a little sugar). I fried my bulgogi in a pan on the stove. It turned out fine, but some day I will BBQ over charcoal. Thanks for the recipe! I also love your marinated bean sprouts!

  6. leolove mississauga joined 12/14 & has 8 comments

    Hey…what can i use instead of rice syrup? And can i stir fry it to use it in kimchi fired rice? And if i can…does the kimchi go into the pan first or do i have to fry the meat first?
    Thank you,

  7. mrschiz81 Arizona joined 1/15 & has 1 comment

    Instead of using brown sugar can I use honey powder or would Brown sugar be better.

  8. mritty Ocoee, FL joined 1/15 & has 2 comments

    I made this for the first time tonight. My girlfriend is vegan, so I made hers with the sliced mushrooms. However, she really dislikes shitakes, so I used portobellos and whites instead. Mine was made with the sliced beef. In fact, the Korean grocery store where I bought all the ingredients had pre-packaged beef that had already been thinly sliced, and even labeled “bul-go-ki”. That simplified matters immensely.

    I did my best to follow the proportions listed for the marinade, but it tasted much to onion-y at that point. I added more of all the other ingredients to the food processor, and blended some more. Now it had too much garlic and ginger. Finally I added some more pear and brown sugar, and it tasted perfect.

    When my (Korean) girlfriend tasted it, she said it was perfect, that it was just like the bulgogi she remembered having growing up. She said she was *so* happy to be able to have that taste again, even after no longer eating meat. So thank you, VERY very much, for including the vegetarian alternative recipe. It absolutely made our night!!

  9. Surie92 Singapore joined 1/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, Im just wondering if I can use light soy sauce for this recipe? Thank You!

  10. gn2568 Chicago joined 12/14 & has 5 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    I would like to make some korean dishes for about 15 college friends about 5 of them are boys. I was thinking bulgogi and hobakjeon our of your easy recipe. Do you suggest anything else?
    How much beef would i need in this case?
    also when marinating bulgogi, can i marinate it for 2 days before I cook?
    Thank you so much!

  11. ffchen225 Fremont joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I love your receipt sooooo much. I will try the easy ones first during winter break. What kind of foot processor did you use in the Vedic? Do you have any recommendations?

    Thanks,
    Karri

  12. koreanbwoy Oahu joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

    Hey Maangchi, I tried this recipe and the sauce came out a bit thick. Is it supposed to be like that? I haven’t eaten it yet, because it’s still marinating for dinner.

  13. squzzie New York joined 9/14 & has 1 comment

    Do you have nutritional information for this recipe? Number of grams of fat, carbs, protein, fiber, etc.? My husband is making this dish for dinner tonight, and I am making an effort to keep better track of what I am eating :) It sounds delicious!

  14. issnyder Goose Creek, SC (Charleston) joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    I make bulgogi all the time. I learned how to make it from my Korean mother and aunt. My aunt revealed her secret for tenderizing the beef many years ago. Instead of using brown sugar, she uses Coca-Cola (not diet!) as a sweetener and tenderizer. It sounds crazy but it introduces a very unique flavor. For a pound of meat used in your demonstration, about a half to full cup of Coca-Cola does the trick. If you are ever in Charleston SC, Mama Kim’s on King Street is the place to go for very good Korean food.

  15. hwangchorong CT USA joined 6/14 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi I’m such a huge fan. I started cooking not so long ago. This recipe and the thousands of other ones are just amazing! My mom was so surprised at my korean cooking skills she asked me how I was making this! I just told her ” My mother in law (시어머니 named Maangchi) OF COURSE. Your website is a precious goldmine exploding with delicious recipes. Please never stop and Thank you for sharing us your talents.and God Bless!

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