I’m super excited about this week’s theme of Korean food. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try but somehow never have. Well, that’s going to change right now with this recipe for Bulgogi – Authentic Korean Beef BBQ. Even though I’ve never tried it, I have a feeling it’s something I’ll like. I have yet to find barbecue anything I don’t like, regardless of its origin. So let’s find out if Korean barbecue is as good as I think it’s going to be!
In this bulgogi recipe, I offer several substitutions and variations that you can try. They will all taste good but I think it is good to have options in case you don’t have all the ingredients or if you prefer one ingredient over another. I start with the most authentic Bulgogi – Korean Beef BBQ and then add options/variations.
This is an authentic recipe with a few options in case you can’t find an ingredient. I either had or found all but two of the ingredients: rice cooking wine and Asian pear. Fortunately, I was able to find alternates for both. I used sake and kiwi, respectively, since my usual grocery store stocks both. It also lists some optional vegetables that can be included, but I skipped those.
I also got lucky and found thinly sliced beef for a little over $5 for a pound. It was labeled something like “sliced beef for palomilla” (I forgot to take a picture of the label, so I’m relying on memory). I was thrilled because the price was reasonable and it saved me the trouble of trying to thinly slice the beef.
Alright, let’s talk about the instructions. I had some confusion and had to thoroughly read the recipe to figure out that the resting time of 30 minutes was for the beef to marinate. The instructions say how to make the marinade but don’t explicitly say how long to let the meat marinate.
Making the bulgogi went smoothly once that was solved. The recipe notes listed some helpful tips, and I’m glad I took the time to read them. Step 3 of the instructions say to cook the meat until it’s slightly brown on both sides, but the notes say bulgogi is supposed to be well cooked. It also said it’s best if it’s slightly burnt, so I made sure the beef was well cooked and a little charred. It went against all my steak cooking instincts, but it caramelized the marinade a bit and just wow! This is one time steak is better well done.
The total time listed for this recipe was 40 minutes. However, the times given add up to 70 minutes. Regardless of the math, I expected this recipe to take about an hour, and I had it ready right on time. Here is how I spent my time:
- 12 minutes to prep
- 30 minutes to marinate (I prepared a side dish during this time)
- 13 minutes to cook
- 55 minutes total
I had to cook the meat two-three pieces at a time so I didn’t overcrowd the pan (another tip from the recipe notes). I’d say it took around two-four minutes per side. I didn’t time it—I kept checking to see if the meat looked well done and had a little bit of a char on it. My trusty twelve-inch cast-iron pan was big enough to prevent overcrowding and gave the beef a nice sear with a little char on the edges.