Beef bulgogi is a savory Korean meal consisting of thinly sliced marinated steak that is typically grilled or barbecued. At home, it is usually pan-fried on the stove top.
Bulgogi literally translates to “fire meat” in Korean, which makes sense because the recipe calls for a nice amount of gochujang, a spicy Korean paste.
It adds a complex flavor to the marinade along with the shredded pear, brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil providing a sweet and spicy middle-ground.
It originated in northern Korea, but has become widely popular throughout southern Korea since the 1940s and is found in many local markets as ready-made kits. However, it is said to have been around since the Goguryeo era which lasted from 37 BCE to 668 CE.
Although beef is the traditional protein choice for this meal, it can be replaced with chicken or pork to make for an equally flavorful dish.
If you want to make this recipe for yourself, follow the steps below!
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless rib eye steak
- 1/2 small pear, peeled and coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Wrap steak in plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Unwrap and slice across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- In a medium bowl, combine pear, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and gochujang. In a gallon size Ziploc bag, combine soy sauce mixture and steak; marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, turning the bag occasionally.
- Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat.* Working in batches, add steak to the grill pan in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until charred and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and steak.
- Serve immediately, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.