A simple but flavorful marinade of soy sauce, Korean spicy paste and sweet Asian pear makes thinly sliced beef a stand out dinner.
My friend Michelle loves food. It’s just one reason we’re good friends. She’s also half Korean. Combine her love of food with her love of her Korean heritage (she has her PhD in Korean Women Studies—WHOA) and I have a built in advisor on everything delicious about her flavorful heritage.
It seems that Korean has been on a steady upward climb in the Asian flavor field and has quickly become on par with Chinese, Japanese and Thai food. Michelle and her husband were the first ones to take us to try Korean food. It’s become such a favorite of mine that I’ve celebrated my past 3 birthdays with a dinner of Beef Bulgogi and all the little Korean side dishes called ban-chan.
Michelle has made us her Korean dinner a handful of times, and that’s how I discovered it’s really so simple to make at home. Because most of the prep is done ahead of time thanks to the marinade, the actual cooking of the meal happens so quickly that it’s perfect for that “what the heck is dinner gonna be” weeknight meal.
About the Recipe
Korean Beef Bulgogi is a spicy marinated, thinly sliced beef that can be either grilled or cooked in a skillet or stir-fry pan, whichever suits your fancy.
There are a two key ingredients that make this dish distinctly Korean: Asian pear and gochugang.
Asian pear can be found in most grocery stores when in season, or at specialty Asian markets. They’re a rounder and more plump than a traditional pear and help tenderize the beef while adding a sweetness to the marinade. If you can’t find Asian pear, a Bosc pear or even a sweeter variety of apple will work too.
Gochuchang is a fermented paste that adds a savory and spicy richness to the marinade. I feel like in many cooking circles its set to become the next Sriracha for adding flavor while cooking. I’ve used it in several fast marinades for chicken and pork and have found it totally delicious every time. You can find it in most grocery stores Asian aisles, or specialty Asian markets.
Thinly sliced beef is the hallmark of bulgogi. I’ve used flank steak today, but any quality cut of been that has marbling will often work. The marinade works its magic in as little as 30 minutes or overnight if you like to prep ahead. We add the onions directly to the marinade to infuse flavor to the meat even a little more.
The thinly sliced beef cooks quickly to create a caramelized coating to the beef and onions. I’m not kidding when I am telling you right now that simply writing this description is making my mouth water. I know it’s the standard lingo most bloggers say, but this time, it is all real.
One of my favorite parts of the entire dinner is the assorted ban-chan, or Korean side dishes. At most Korean restaurants, a selection of them are served before or alongside the meal to eat with or nibble on before.
For this dinner we served dried seaweed, this spicy Korean cucumber recipe, kimchee that I purchased from the Korean market and this recipe for Korean glazed potatoes that have a sweet delicious flavor you’d never expect from a potato. We didn’t do my favorite Korean broccoli that is so simply dressed with a bit of sesame oil.
Next time it’s happening for sure.
Serve it all over bowls of hot white rice, or make wraps with leafy lettuce leaves with bits of the assorted ban-chan to make hand held Korean lettuce tacos.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
- 1½ pound flat iron steak
- 1 onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
- 1 Asian pear, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 2 green onions, chopped
- Sesame seeds
- White rice for serving
- Wrap the flat iron steak in plastic wrap and freeze for 1-2 hours to firm up.
- Thinly slice the flat iron steak across the grain into about ⅛-inch slices. Place the beef and chopped onion in a gallon freezer bag or a large bowl and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the Asian pear, shallot, garlic and grated ginger until smooth. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, gochujang and black pepper and pulse until combined. Pour into the gallon freezer bag or large bowl with the steak and onions and mix to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes up to overnight.
- When ready to cook, preheat a cast-iron pan or large skillet over high heat and then add the oil. Add the meat, onions and marinade to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the meat begins to brown and caramelize and the onions are cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds. Serve with rice, kimchi, Korean pickled cucumbers and Korean glazed potatoes.
More Korean Recipe Love to Share
There’s a whole lot to do with delicious Korean flavors, here are a few more main dishes to add to your table.
Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Stew
At the Korean restaurant we go to, they serve this stew as part of a combination plate with bulgogi. At this point, I don’t know if I can eat one without the other.
Get the recipe | My Korean Kitchen
Double Dredged Tofu with Gochuchang Glaze
Double dredging the tofu gives the super soft insides a delicious crunchy shell for the spicy Korean sauce to cling to.
Get the recipe | Olives for Dinner
Spicy Korean Baked Chicken Wings
Baking instead of frying makes these wings extra eatable.
Get the recipe | MJ and the Hungryman
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