Last Updated on October 25, 2022 by Carne Diem
Method: Grill or Griddle
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Grilled Korean Bulgogi has become one of our favorite Asian inspired meals to cook up on our BBQ grill. The tender sliced steak is marinated overnight and then it only takes a couple minutes on the grill or a hot griddle to cook up the flavorful Korean beef. Even our kids, that typically avoid anything with soy sauce, absolutely devour our grilled bulgogi as soon as it hits the table.
What is Korean Bulgogi?
Bulgogi is a Korean dish translating to "fire meat." It typically consists of thinly sliced pieces of steak that are marinated in a sweet and savory marinade typically including soy sauce, sesame oil, Asian pear, and other seasonings and spices. The tender, marinated steak is then grilled or stir fried with onions or other vegetables. It has quickly become one of Korea's most famous culinary exports, and for good reason.
How to Make Korean Bulgogi at Home
What is the Best Beef for Korean Bulgogi?
When it come to the best steak or beef to use for your Grilled Bulgogi you have several options. Steak cuts work best such as ribeye, New York strip steaks, or top sirloin. You will want to get thicker cuts of these steaks that you can slice thinly. Many Asian markets will have pre-sliced steaks available for bulgogi or for use in Chinese hot pot. Some grocery stores will also have thinly sliced ribeye for cheesesteaks, that also works well for bulgogi.
How to Make the Best Korean Bulgogi Marinade
All great bulgogi starts with a great marinade. You want to achieve a nice balance of sweet, salty, and umami flavors without any one flavor becoming overpowering. For our marinade you will need soy sauce, mirin, toasted sesame oil, black pepper, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, kiwi, and green onions. Typically, bulgogi is made with Asian pears as well but these can be a challenge to find unless you have a really good Asian market near you, and the pears here in the U.S. are not really a direct substitution. If you cannot find an Asian pear, replace with ½ or a Bartlett pear and ½ of a red apple, as we have done here. For those that love a little spice in their Korean Grilled Bulgogi, add up to a tablespoon of Gochujang sauce to your marinade.
Prep your marinade ingredients by coring and halving your fruits and mincing your garlic and ginger.
Add the cored apple and pear to a food processor with all of the other marinade ingredients.
Blend the marinade until you have a smooth, consistent marinade.
Marinate the bulgogi overnight
Place the sliced steak in a medium sized bowl and cover with the marinade. Mix to make sure the steak pieces are evenly covered. Cover and refrigerate the bulgogi overnight. We do not recommend going any longer than 24 hours with the marinade if you have included kiwi in the marinade. Fruits like kiwi and pineapple contain an enzyme called actinidin which is highly effective at tenderizing meat, however, left too long and the meat can become mushy.
Cooking your grilled bulgogi on your BBQ grill
Heat your griddle to medium high heat, about 400 degrees. If cooking indoors, use a Cooking Steel Deluxe Griddle or large cast iron pan. Evenly coat the griddle surface with a high temperature cooking oil like avocado oil, sunflower oil, or sesame oil. Add the green onion slices and carrot slices to the marinated beef just before grilling. Typically, you will find that the meat has soaked up much of the marinade. If there is any extra liquid in the bowl, discard it.
Once your griddle has come to temp, cook the meat in batches for about 1-2 minutes per side, until cooked through and slightly charred on the outside. Do not overcrowd your griddle or pan. Overcrowding will tend to result in the beef steaming, which will result in a mushy bulgogi.
Bulgogi cooking method options
We cooked this batch of Korean Grilled Bulgogi on our PK Grill with a Cooking Steel. We love the fact that our Cooking Steels enable us to turn any of our grills into a griddle. You can even use them on your stovetop to use as an indoor griddle. The beef bulgogi can also be made on a Blackstone griddle or any other type of flat top grill.
For more great recipes to make on your Cooking Steels or Blackstone be sure to check out some of our favorites:
- Fried Lump Crab Cakes with Sriracha Mayonnaise
- Peruvian Lomo Saltado: Stir-fried sirloin steak and fries
- St. Louis Slinger
- Breakfast Pastrami Hash
- Fried Mashed Potato Cakes with Herbes de Provence Butter
If you do not have a griddle or flat top grill you can cook the bulgogi in a preheated cast iron pan. You can also cook directly on the grill, though you risk losing smaller pieces and some of the carrots and green onions through the grill grates.
Serving the Korean Grilled Beef Bulgogi
You will want to serve your bulgogi as hot as possible, so if you are cooking in batches add the cooked meat to a pan and cover with foil while you cook the rest of the beef.
Serve your Korean Grilled Bulgogi hot off the grill along with some white rice or our Flat Top Chicken Fried Rice., and kimchi. Top with additional sesame seeds and sliced green onions if desired.
If you have leftovers the are best reheated in the oven wrapped in foil to keep the beef from drying out. Leftovers also make for some great Korean inspired tacos.
For more great grilled Asian recipes check out some of our favorites:
- Grilled Tiger Cry Beef
- A5 Japanese Wagyu With Yakiniku Sauce
- Japanese Teppanyaki On Your Grill
- Grilled Chicken Tikka Skewers
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Grilled Korean Beef Bulgogi
- Griddle, flat top or cast-Iron pan
- 2 Pounds Thinly Sliced Steak Ribeye, New York Strip, or Top Sirloin
- 1 teaspoon Sesame Seeds
- 2 Green Onions sliced
- 1 Carrot sliced on the bias
- ½ Red Apple
- ½ Kiwi
- ½ Pear
- ¼ Cup Soy Sauce
- 3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Mirin
- 1 tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 4 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon Ginger minced
- 2 Green Onions
- 1 pinch Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Sesame Seeds
- Core the apple and pear then place in a food processor with all of the other marinade ingredients.
- Blend the marinade until you have a smooth, consistent marinade.
- Place the sliced steak in a medium sized bowl and cover with the marinade. Mix to make sure the steak pieces are evenly covered. Cover and refrigerate the bulgogi overnight.
- Heat your griddle to medium high heat (about 400 degrees). If cooking indoors, use a Cooking Steel or large cast iron pan. Evenly coat the griddle surface with a high temperature cooking oil like avocado oil, sunflower oil, or sesame oil.
- Once your griddle has come to temp, cook the meat in batches for about 1-2 minutes per side, until cooked through and slightly charred on the outside. Do not overcrowd your griddle or pan.
- Serve the bulgogi while hot over rice with kimchi. If desired, top with additional green onion and sesame seeds.