Beef Bulgogi
Beef Bulgogi to rival any Korean restaurant is easy to cook at home!  Beef Bulgogi is crazy tender and juicy seeping with mildly sweet, savory, smoky flavors from the soy, sesame, garlic, ginger marinade.  It is intensely flavorful, and tantalizingly delicious!
    Servings Prep Time
    6servings 10minutes
    Cook Time
    Servings Prep Time
    6servings 10minutes
    Cook Time
    using chopsticks to pick up Beef Bulgogi in a white dish with sesame seeds and green onions
    • 1 1/2pounds rib eye, top sirloin or flank steakTHINLY sliced across the grain (less than 1/8″)
    • Vegetable oil
    • 1/4cup low sodium soy sauce
    • 1/4 of an Asian pear, grated(may sub sweet apple like Fuji)
    • 3tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1tablespoon sweet rice wine/mirinmay sub dry sherry (see notes)
    • 1tablespoon sesame oil
    • 1tablespoon Gochuchang(see notes)
    • 4 garlic clovesminced
    • 1tablespoon freshly grated ginger
    • 1/2teaspoon pepper
    • 3 Scallionschopped
    • 1tablespoon toasted sesame seedsdivided
    • additional scallions for garnishoptional
    1. Add all of the marinade ingredients to a shallow bowl or freezer bag (whatever you are going to marinate your steak in) and whisk to combine. Add steak and turn to coat. Cover and marinate 30 minutes at room temperature (only an option if using rib eye or top sirloin) or refrigerate up to overnight.
    2. When ready to cook, let beef sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Heat one tablespoon vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet, wok or stainless steal pan.
    3. Working in 4 batches, add meat (grabbing meat with tongs so excess marinade drips off) in a single layer and let sear 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook and addition 1-2 minutes or until browned but barely cooked through then add sesame seeds and stir to combine. Transfer to a plate and cover tightly with foil. Repeat.
    4. Garnish with additional sesame seeds and green onions if desired. Serve with additional Gochuchang if you would like it spicier.
    Recipe Notes
    • Korean/Asian pear. Asian pears look like a pale, yellow apple.  Asian pears are more readily available in the fall and winter months (sometimes even Costco carries them), but I easily found mine at Sprouts in July!  So if you aren’t sure if your store carries them, just ask!
    • Asian pear Substitute. If you can’t find Asian pears, you can substitute a sweet apple like Fuji or Bosc pear.
    • Rice wine is NOT rice vinegar- DO NOT switch them out.    I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin: Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning” which is commonly found in the Asian section of most grocery stores or you can Amazon it.  I highly suggest you google image before you head off to the grocery store so you know exactly what you are looking for.  The best substitute for rice wine is pale dry sherry.
    • Gochuchang is a sweet and spicy Korean Barbecue Sauce and is one of my favorite condiments.  I use Annie Chun’s Sweet and Spicy Gochujang Sauce located in the Asian section of my grocery store, but you can also easily buy it on Amazon.  I do recommend looking to see what Annie Chun’s Gochujang Sauce looks like so you can easily spot it at the grocery store (not an affiliate, just will make your life easier). If you don’t want to purchase Gochuchang just for this recipe, then I suggest adding an 1-3 teaspoons of an alternative Asian hot chili sauce.
    • Freeze beef. You can purchase pre-sliced Beef Bulgogi meat at Korean grocery stores, otherwise, the easiest way to thinly slice beef is while it is partially frozen.  Wrap beef in plastic wrap and freeze 1-2 hours until it is firm enough to hold shape but still soft enough to slice.  I like to cut the beef in half and place one half in the freezer until I am finished slicing the first half.
    • Cut beef across the grain. You can see the “grain” running through the meat in one direction. The grain is essentially the muscle fibers running through the meat.  You want to cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers so they become as short as possible as opposed to long muscle fibers. Long muscle fibers will give you chewy, rubbery tough meat – so cut AGAINST the grain.
    • Butcher’s help. You can ask your butcher to slice the meat thinly for you!
    • Beef Substitutes. You can mix up the meat in this Bulgogi and use boneless pork loin, boneless short rib, skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs.
    • Marinating Times.  If you choose to use flank steak or skirt steak, I suggest marinating the beef longer because these are tougher meats to start with.  I would marinate flanks and skirt steak for at least 2 hours but overnight is best.  If you are using rib-eye or top sirloin, you can get away with marinating for as little as a 30-minutes at room temperature, but 1-2 hours in the refrigerator is optimal.  The meat is sliced so thinly and these cuts of meat are already so tender you don’t need much more than 3 hours, but you are welcome to marinate longer.
    • Use tongs. We don’t want excess moisture/marinade in our skillet in order for the beef to sear and caramelize instead of just steam, so use a pair of tongs to transfer your beef from the marinade to the skillet, letting excess marinade drip off.  If there is excess moisture left in your skillet after you cook you first batch, wipe it out with a paper towel.
    • Use a hot skillet. Your pan should be hot enough so that the meat sizzles as soon as it touches the pan. We want the outside of our meat to develop a nice sear while the inside remains tender, this ensures juicy steak. To do this, use a wok, cast iron or stainless steal pan, make sure your skillet is nice and hot.
    • Don’t overcrowd your pan. Cook your steak in 4 batches so you don’t overcrowd your skillet which will steam instead of sear your beef. The hot skillet will evaporate any extra moisture as it sears the meat and leave you with beautifully caramelized Beef Bulgogi.  It only takes a few minutes to cook each batch, so please do not try to rush the process and crowd your pan or your beef will suffer flavor and tenderness.
    • Add additional sugar to taste. Beef Bulgogi is mildly sweet, but just how sweet is subjective.  I think the recipe is perfect as written, but you can add more sugar while you’re cooking if you like sweeter Bulgogi.   To do this add sprinkle ½-1 teaspoon brown sugar over your meat then stir fry.