Korean BBQ Bulgogi made of thin beef slices marinated in a sweet and salty marinade and cooked to perfection over charcoal or tabletop griddle. This Asian BBQ beef is tender, flavorful, and delicious with steamed rice!
With Spring just around the corner, we’re starting to see gorgeous weather here in our neck of the woods. I didn’t really experience the whole brunt of winter this year as I was in the Philippines for half of the season but I’m still looking forward to warmer temperatures. Because, folks, that means backyard BBQ’s!
One of the activities G enjoys most is grilling outdoors. Any sign of a sunny day, he is out on the patio firing up the charcoal and that’s just splendid for me! A simple meal is a lot more fun when enjoyed al fresco and of course, bonus points that I get to lounge around reading a book while he mans the pit preparing our lunch. 🙂
The meat he was grilling in the picture above happens to be our favorite type of barbecue ever, Kalbi. We’re so obsessed with these Korean short ribs, we’d go through a good a few pounds before you can say Korean short ribs twice. Sweet and salty, tender and flavorful meat between bones are the stuff barbecue dreams are made of!
Unfortunately, Korean short ribs are obscenely expensive especially for something that weighs half bones. Fortunately, Korean BBQ Bulgogi delivers the same flavors we crave with a lot more meat!
Beef bulgogi is a popular Korean classic made from thin slices of top sirloin, tenderloin or other prime cuts of beef marinated in a sweet and salty soy sauce mixture. The seasoned meat is traditionally grilled over charcoal or tabletop/indoor grill(this is an affiliate link) but can be pan-cooked just as easily.
Here are a few tips on how to make the most delicious Korean BBQ Bulgogi right in your own home:
- Pears (Korean pears are best) are an essential ingredient in the marinade as they help tenderize the beef as well as adding a nice touch of sweetness. I’ve tried Gala apples on occasions I didn’t have pears on hand and they worked beautifully.
- I usually have the butcher slice the meat for me or buy the pre-sliced beef specifically used for bulgogi when I visit Korean stores. If you need to slice the beef, freeze it for about 20 to 30 until slightly frozen to make cutting easier and cut the beef across the grain for the tenderest chew.
- As the meat is cut into thin slices, a good half hour of marination is usually enough to impart flavor. I don’t recommend marinating the beef for more than 8 hours as the acids might break down the meat.
- The best way, in my opinion, to enjoy Bulgogi is cooking the meat at the table using a tabletop griddle. If you’re cooking the beef over charcoal, I suggest skewering the meat slices so small pieces don’t fall between the grates. If you’re cooking stove-top, use a wide, heavy bottomed skillet and don’t overcrowd the pan so the beef sears nicely.
Korean BBQ Bulgogi
- 1 large pear, peeled, seeded and quartered
- 1 head garlic, peeled
- 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 2 pounds top sirloin or tenderloin, sliced very thinly
In a food processor, process pear, onions, garlic, and ginger until pureed (the texture of applesauce).
In a bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add puree pear mixture, green onions, and sesame seeds. Stir until well-combined.
Add beef, massaging to fully incorporate marinade. Cover with film and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours but not more than 8 hours. Drain beef from marinade.
Over a tabletop grill pan, arrange beef slices in a single layer and cook for about 2 to 4 minutes on each side or until slightly charred and tender. If using a skillet, add a tablespoon and heat over high heat. Add beef slices and cook, turning as needed, until tender and lightly browned. Serve hot.