Korean bulgogi recipe

Grilling at the Korean barbecue restaurant.

Bulgogi is probably the most recognizable kind of Korean barbecue. I think it's safe to assume that any big city in America has at least one Korean barbecue restaurant where you can satisfy your hunger for piles of marinated meat grilled to perfection right at the table. We've been to of Korean  places in both hemispheres since we started building The Tabletop Cook website.

While it's not always easy to find the most authentic cuts of meat in the US or elsewhere outside of Asia, it's still easy to make a delicious dinner with friends using just a nice sirloin steak.

A rose made of beef at a bulgogi restaurant in Hong Kong.
Korean bulgogi meat in a restaurantThinly-sliced Korean barbecue meat at a restaurant in Hong Kong.
Korean bbq recipeKorean barbeque meat sliced a little too thickly at home in the US, but I do my best!
Korean barbecueBulgogi means "fire meat", but maybe we took it a little too literally...

I made it for my family when my sister and my mom came to visit me for my birthday. We had a little barbecue outside, but we used our electric tabletop grill instead of the charcoal or gas grills. It's one of my favorite toys because it heats up fast and it's easy to clean when you’re finished. Also, it’s Korean, so we were being a little bit authentic. 

This recipe was adapted from Savory Sweet Life, where the meat is sauteed and ends up looking a little more like sukiyaki meat. Here, we marinate then grill the beef on our electric grill. I recommended marinating the meat for at least four hours before serving it, and overnight when possible. 


Korean bulgogi recipe

Ingredients
(serves 4-6)

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 medium sweet onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or a dash of ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 lbs sirloin or rib-eye steak, sliced thin

Serve with

  • Plenty of cooked rice or noodles for each guest, 
  • big, crisp, clean lettuce leaves to make lettuce wraps, 
  • raw onions for grilling, and
  • Korean barbecue dipping sauces, like ssamjang. (Buy it premade or scroll down for a recipe.)

Directions

Note: If you can't buy the cuts of beef you need at your friendly local Asian market or Korean grocery store, you'll have to slice it yourself. This is much, much easier if you partially freeze it first, and use a very sharp knife to cut into into strips a little thicker than a credit card. Remember, you are grilling this right at the table, so you basically want to toss it on the grill for a few seconds, turn it over, then toss it in your mouth. 

  1. Blend the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor until the onion disappears. Pour the marinade over the sliced meat in a large Ziploc bag or a plastic container with a lid and let it marinate for at least four hours. 
  2. Remove the meat from the marinade and discard the remaining liquid. Serve the meat on a plate or two for your guests.
  3. Using chopsticks or a fork, cook the meat on your tabletop grill. Cook each piece to your desired level of doneness. The thin slices of beef shouldn’t need more than a minute to cook all the way through. 
  4. Eat with rice, noodles, or wrapped up in a fresh lettuce leaf.

Ssamjang dipping sauce for Korean barbecue

I used this recipe from the very awesome Korean-recipe site Maangchi, but I can suggest a few substitutions that might make it easier. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Korean fermented soybean paste, called doenjang or Japanese miso paste
  • 1 tbsp Korean chili pepper paste, called gochujang, or Sriracha sauce for more of a kick
  • 1 stalk spring onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp honey, or sugar/brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional: 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon.
korean bulgogi lettuce wrap
Korean bbq

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