Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bulgogi Beef – How They “Barbecue” in Korea (the Good Korea)

This is going to be a pretty easy post to write, since I know almost nothing about the fine art of bulgogi. I do know that if you follow along with what I did in the video, you’re going to end up with something very delicious, and fairly gorgeous, so that’s a good place to start.

I also know that you can control the texture by making your slices thicker or thinner, as well as changing the marination time. Obviously, the thinner the slice, and the longer it’s in the marinade, the softer and more tender the meat becomes. However, you can go too far, ending up with something mushy, and unappetizing.

Unfortunately, this is a matter of trial and error, and so to avoid all that, I generally go with just an hour or two, which always seems like plenty to me. I don’t want mushy meat, in the best examples I’ve had of this in Korean restaurants, while tender, still had a little bit of chewiness to them. Besides, the fact that this is such a fast-acting marinade, is one of the big advantages.

If you don’t do the boneless short ribs, and go with pork loin, or chicken, you’ll want to be especially careful, since it has less connective tissue. By the way, if you are an experienced bulgogi master, please feel free to pass any tips along. I really hope to give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large portions:
1 1/4 pound boneless beef short rib, or any other meat, sliced about 1/8-inch thick
4 finely crushed garlic cloves
1 generous tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/3 cup freshly grated Asian pear
1/4 cup grated yellow onion
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 or 2 tablespoon light brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes (Gochugaru)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
sliced green onions to finish
steamed rice


Deborah J. said...

If unable to find the Asian Pears or Korean Chili Flakes are there any substitutions you'd recommend?

andrewaway said...

I love Bulgogi. Thanks.

Todd Smith said...

Do you think could could work with Flank or Skirt steak?

Steve Kennedy said...

My daughter in law makes this, and it is crazy good. She serves hers with some lettuce similar to bibb. You take a leaf, put in some rice, put in some bulgogi top it with kimchee and ssamjang sauce. Basicaly a Korean taco.

Rivermute said...

Very timely recipe... A friend sent me a giant bag of Korean BBQ jerky from Toronto last week.. there is no such thing as a giant enough bag of jerky. Making kimchi this weekend so I may have to take a stab at this.

Karen H. said...

I substitute pineapple juice for the asian pear when I can't find it. I think the acidity of the fruit does something nice to the texture of the meat--and the pineapple juice works just as well.

Brandon Quinn said...

@Deborah, You can substitute a Korean pear for a bosc pear, or even a sweet apple. However, there really isn't a substitute for gochugaru. It's its own thing. You can get a small amount of it on Amazon for around $5, or a large bag for around $10.

Jirapat Samranvedhya said...

I've made bulgogi marinade multiple times, and I can already tell without even trying this will be phenomenal.

I usually just throw everything in a metal bowl and use an immersion blender.

Jason C said...

Who paid you to do THIS video?... Just kidding, thanks for all the hard work you do and videos you share!

PresJackson said...

Hi All/Chef John,

My aunt is from South Korea and cooks this dish all the time.She has shared the recipe with me. When she first came to the states it was hard to find asian pears so she used Kiwis. That is still what shes uses today as she finds the taste way better.

rancholyn said...

This looks yummy...Is this spicy???? Thanks

Youn-Jee Rengnez said...

Wow Chef John, your recipe is spot on to authentic 불고기 (bulgogi). Happy to see more chefs taking on Korean cuisine. One lady asked what can be substituted for 배 (Asian pear). You can use Western pear if Asian pear cannot be found. Not sure what would be a good substitute for 고추가루 (Gochugaru)....

Toshiko Suisei said...

Hi Chef John, I've never tried Bulgogi but looks very good and will try soon - Thanks for recipe! Tips from teriyaki beef recipe to adapt to this one:
1) Buy a knob of raw ginger root, wash and let dry on counter for an hour, wrap tightly and store in freezer. No need to thaw or peel - easy to microplane into needed amount. Re-wrap knob and put back in freezer for next time. Can't tell the difference from raw ginger.
2) Use a tri-tip roast if you can't spare a fortune for boneless short ribs. And if you put in freezer until slightly firm, very easy to slice perfectly!
3) Grill it over vicious-hot charcoal for very briefly! ^.^

broderick said...

@Deborah J,

Bosc pairs have an extremely similar flavor and texture to Asian pairs and are fine to sub in. I'm not sure about the best substitute for Korean chili flakes. I use fermented Korean chili paste, gochujang, when I've made mine in the past, and there's nothing quite exactly like it. However, the important notes in the marinade are the ginger, garlic, soy, sesame, and pair. For the heat, I imagine you could use a whatever chili sauce or powder you prefer and still get something very tasty.

John said...

Just want to agree with the poster above who mentioned kiwi as a substitute for Asian pear. Works really well, and in fact I first learned the recipe for bulgogi from a Korean neighbor who only used kiwi (possibly because it was difficult to find Asian pears in our town).

Tom said...

Made this with tri-tip and grilled on a BBQ - cooks really fast and is absolutely incredible! I found the gochugaru in the spice aisle at Vons/Safeway. Only variation was that I just had to shake in a bit cayenne!

Matt said...

I didn't have all the ingredients so I improvised. Top round instead of beef short ribs. Dried ginger instead of fresh. Apple instead of Asian pear. One dried habanero instead of gochugaru. And it still came out well! This recipe is getting added to my growing list of Chef John recipes that will be part of my meal roation.

Kath said...

@deborah j: you can use kiwi or some coca cola

@todd smith: it works VERY well with flank/skirt steak! just remember to slice thinly against the grain

Chef John, this has been a food wish of mine forever! I make it constantly but don't really go by a recipe. I wish I did because the last time I made it, I wanted it to taste the same from then on! I will be trying yours ASAP and will be sure to let you know how it tastes.

Also, for those that like spicy. I find that you can double the korean pepper powder without issue since it's a sweet-ish dish!

Mollie_Monkey said...

How about a ropa vieja recipe

Ilia Harkins said...

Hi, this recipe is amazing! So easy and delicious. I used fermented Korean red chili paste instead of flakes and an extra tablespoon of brown sugar. I cooked in one batch in a large nonstick pan. I had about a cup or so of the marinade left over and used it to deglaze the pan after cooking the meat. Once that cooked down & thickened I put all the meat back into the pan with it for a second coating of delicious barbecue sauce. I will definitely add this to my repertoire of sure fire hit recipes!

Daniel McIntyre said...

Deglazing the pan should create a Fond. And if you use it all, you could bid your Fond Farewell!

BigDog said...

This looks awesome! Any recommendations for heat etc, for a non-cast iron skillet?

Neil said...

Hi Chef John,

My fiance and I love your show and your recipes. Big fans of yours!
I think this is kind of a hybrid between bulgogi and kalbi. Bulgogi commonly is cooked with thinly sliced onions that caramelize in the pan with the beef, maybe some enoki mushrooms too. Also, usually done with thinly sliced ribeye not short rib. Everything caramelizing in the pan usually results in a tasty pan sauce which is spooned over the beef and rice. Your marinade seems authentic and awesome though!

Kalbi is done with short ribs, usually lighter on the marinade (can use the marinade you used--or none at all) and sliced a bit thicker but served with greens to create little wraps with spicy miso paste.

Again, big fans of yours but just wanted to give some feedback.