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An overhead shot of a white platter of beef bulgogi alongside dishes of rice, green onions, gochujang aioli, cucumber kimchi, mung beans, kimchi and leafy lettuce.

Korean BBQ-Style Beef Bulgogi At Home (Tender & Charred!)

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  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Inactive Marinating Time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop, Broiled
  • Cuisine: Korean-inpsired, American

Description

Going out to eat at a Korean BBQ restaurant is one of my family’s favorite ways to share a special meal together. But since there aren’t a ton of KBBQ options near us, my mom and I set out to recreate the experience at home.

We tested a variety of different methods and found that the secret to making KBBQ-style tender, caramelized, and deeply charred beef bulgogi without a grill or hot plate is pretty simple – quickly sear the marinated steak in a skillet, then finish it under the broiler in your oven!

For best results with this recipe, use a tender cut of steak (like ribeye or sirloin), marinate it at least 12 hours so all the flavors sink into the meat, and cook in batches to create a beautiful golden sear.

Be sure to check out the blog post, above, for plenty more tips, tricks, and serving inspriation to get you started. ♡ Happy cooking!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds ribeye or tender steak of choice, thinly sliced against the grain into ⅛-inch strips (see Recipe Notes)
  • bulgogi marinade (below)
  • 12 tablespoons vegetable oil of choice
  • 8 ounces fresh mung bean sprouts
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • for serving, as desired: cooked white rice, leafy lettuce, kimchi or pickled vegetables of choice (try Mom’s Quick Cucumber Kimchi), gochujang aioli, toasted sesame seeds, etc.

for the bulgogi marinade:

  • ½ cup shoyu (can substitute low-sodium soy sauce or tamari)
  • ⅓ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine of choice
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small Asian pear, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (can substitute Pink Lady apple or Bosc pear)
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

  1. Prepare the bulgogi marinade: To a blender or food processor, combine all listed bulgogi marinade ingredients. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired. Blend or pulse to combine well. (Alternately, you can use a box grater to finely grate the pear, onion, and ginger, then whisk with remaining ingredients in a large bowl.) Learn more! Grandma Marian’s Bulgogi Marinade Recipe.An overhead shot of marinade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor atop a white surface: shoyu, brown sugar, mirin, sesame oil, gochujang, garlic, chopped Asian pear, yellow onion, ginger, salt and pepper.
  2. Marinate the steak: Place the thinly sliced steak in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Pour the prepared bulgogi marinade over top. Toss well to combine, using your hands to separate the steak and ensure each individual piece is well coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 3 days.An overhead shot of sliced beef marinating in a glass bowl atop a white surface.
  3. Dinner prep: About 1 hour or 30 minutes before cooking, remove the marinated bulgogi beef from the refrigerator and allow to warm slightly. Just before cooking, line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up and set aside. Preheat your oven’s broiler to its highest setting, ensuring a rack is positioned directly underneath it.
  4. Sear the bulgogi beef: Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, begin searing the beef in batches. I like to grab a small handful (allow any excess marinade to drip back into the bowl) and carefully place it into the skillet, spreading it into an even layer. Do not over-crowd the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook for 30 seconds more. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Continue to sear the remaining bulgogi beef in batches, adding additional oil to the pan as needed. Discard any remaining marinade.An overhead shot of seared beef in a black cast iron skillet atop a white surface.
  5. Finish under the broiler: Once all of the beef is seared, transfer the sheet pan to the oven, placing it directly under the broiler. Broil 2-3 minutes, carefully rotating the pan halfway through, until the beef bulgogi is browned and slightly crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside for serving.An overhead shot of seared beef bulgogi on a dark green baking sheet atop a white surface.
  6. Cook the mung bean sprouts: Meanwhile, as the bulgogi beef broils, quickly cook the mung bean sprouts. Return the skillet used to sear the beef to medium-high heat. Add the bean sprouts and green onions. Season with a good pinch of salt and ground black pepper as desired. Cook until just warmed through, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any of the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Do not overcook; the crispy sprouts have wonderful texture!An overhead shot of mung beans and green onions cooking in a black cast iron skillet atop a white surface.
  7. Serve immediately as desired. I love serving this beef bulgogi with a spread of cooked rice, leafy lettuce, and banchans like the softened bean sprouts and kimchi. It’s also fabulous in a Beef Bulgogi Bowl or tucked into tacos (completely untraditional but absolutely delicious!). Enjoy!An overhead shot of a white platter of beef bulgogi alongside dishes of rice, green onions, gochujang aioli, cucumber kimchi, mung beans, kimchi and leafy lettuce.

Notes

Jess’ Tips and Tricks

  • Best cut of beef to use, plus prep tips: As written, this bulgogi recipe works best with tender steak. We love ribeye most, but top sirloin is also a great, slightly more affordable cut. Thinly slicing raw steak can be tricky. I suggest placing the steak in the freezer for about 30 minutes – 1 hour; the meat firms up quite a bit as it chills, making it much easier to slice. If you live near a great Asian grocery store, they may also sell thinly sliced beef for bulgogi – feel free to use it for this recipe!
  • Gochujang is a fermented Korean chili paste made from red chili flakes (gochugaru), fermented soy beans, and glutinous rice. It has a distinctive spicy-sweet-funky umami flavor. Gochujang is readily available at Asian grocery stores (often packaged in a red plastic tub), though you can often find it in the “international” aisle of a conventional grocery stores or online. The brands I typically use are Chung Jung One and Mother-In-Law.
  • Rice wine: You can find rice wine in the “international” aisle of most conventional grocery stores these days, though it’s also readily available at Asian grocery stores. Imperfect-yet-quick substitutes for mirin in this recipe include dry sherry or dry vermouth.

Storage and Reheating

Store leftover bulgogi beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through, then serve as desired.