Beef Bulgolgi (Korean BBQ)

Photo taken by Nicole Ramos

I lived in Korea, on and off, since I was nine years old.  It was my mother that I learned the art of cooking and I found very early on that I had a passion for food.  In fact, my mom would argue I wasn’t really sick if I was still hungry, haha.  If I didn’t want to eat, she worried.  My mom was the kind of mom that wouldn’t let me out of the house without breakfast, made my lunches and always had a hot dinner ready every night.  I would watch my mom day in and day out put so much energy and care into what made.  To her, she was preparing meals for her family, to me it was an experience, from preparing the ingredients to creating a meal.  I never realized until I was older that food was such an important part of my Korean culture.  It brought the family together, neighbors bonded preparing for the day and even in this fast paced society, going out to eat is central to socialization.

Since then, I have prepared some of the dishes my mom taught me to my friends.  I have decided to share my mothers recipes with you.  If you’ve never tried Korean cuisine, I definitely recommend it and this dish should be the first you should try.

Serves:  4                              Level:     Easy                                        

 Cook Time:          5-10 mins.                     Marinate:  1hr.-overnight (in fridge)


  • 1 ½ lb  sirloin or rib-eye beef (thinly sliced)
  • 1  lg. onion
  • 4  green onions (cut in long strips)
  •  toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
  • shredded carrots (optional)
  • broccoli (optional)

Some people add vegetables like carrots and/or broccoli to their bulgolgi.  My mother never did this and neither do I, but I included it as an option.  I sometimes prepare a side of steamed vegetables, however Korean dishes/meals are served with a wide variety of side dishes (many vegetables).  Kimchi, being a staple at all tables and meals, I recommend trying if you’re not afraid of spicy!

Bulgolgi Marinade:

  • 2 TBS  garlic (minced)
  • 5 TBS  soy sauce
  • 3 TBS  sugar
  • 1 TBS  sesame oil
  • 1 TBS  Kirin sauce or rice wine
  • 1 lg      Nashi pear (Korean pear) *optional
  • ½ tsp   black pepper
  • ½ tsp  ground ginger

(*The Korean pear may not always be in season and can be large, so I recommend only using half and chill the other half, slice it up and enjoy.  Sweet like pears we know here in the States, but slightly different flavor.)


  1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade together.  The marinade should not taste salty, but slightly sweet with a hint of the soy sauce flavor.   Add in beef, sliced onions & green onions. 
  2. Marinade for 1 hour (bare minimum 30 min.), like all marinades, the longer you do the better the flavor soaks in.
  3. Heat a large skillet or frying pan on medium-high heat.  Add the beef marinade mixture and stir fry until beef is cooked thoroughly.  .
  4. Be careful not to over cook the meat, as it will get tough.  Add toasted sesame seeds for garnish.

Can be served with a side of rice, or used in a lettuce wrap with Korean red pepper paste (gojuchang). 

**NOTE:  You find all of these ingredients at Asian specialty markets.  Although it may seem expensive at first to stock up.  These ingredients will last many dishes and many meals to come. **

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