This is an authentic recipe for Korean Beef Bulgogi. It’s easy and fast to make, and the ingredients are all from the supermarket. I think you will be surprised by two key ingredients in the marinade: grated apple and grated onion. This is quite unique to Korean cooking – and it makes an incredible base for this simple, tasty stir fry!
When I think about food trends in recent years, one of the cuisines that comes to mind straight away is Korean food. Legends like David Chang (of the world renowned Momofuku restaurants) and Roy Choi (LA Korean fusion food truck extraordinaire) have brought Korean food into the limelight. Whereas once you had to hunt to find great Korean restaurants in Sydney, now they are really common in the city and there are growing pockets throughout the suburbs with an increasing number of great Korean restaurants.
Korean food is now cool. It’s what sushi was 10 years ago!
I have always loved Korean food, from the moment I first tried it. But honestly, it wasn’t until perhaps about 5 years ago that I started making it myself at home. You will laugh when I tell you how I got onto Korean home cooking….
It was because of my Korean hairdresser. Truly! She’s a character. Even though I now live 30km/20 miles from her salon, I still make the trek there every 6 weeks not only because she knows what she’s doing, but also because she dictates recipes to me while she colours and snips away!
One such recipe she dictated to me was Bulgogi, which is otherwise known as Korean BBQ Beef. It is probably one of the more commonly known Korean dishes in Western countries. Marinated beef which is stir fried with onion and carrots. Then served either using lettuce wraps or on rice.
The recipe she dictated to me was a loose interpretation, along the lines of “throw in some garlic, grated apple and onion, splash of sesame oil” etc, but I still jotted it down. Then went in hunt of a full recipe to follow!
That’s when I first stumbled onto My Korean Kitchen, and food blog run by Sue who is a native Korean now living in Australia. For anyone interested in making real and fusion Korean food at home (note: it’s fusion that stays on the right side of the fusion line!), My Korean Kitchen is a fantastic blog to bookmark. Not only are her recipes delicious, they always work and she goes to great lengths to ensure she explains ingredients that might not be familiar to everyone.
Here are my picks from her blog. I’ve made quite a few already and intend to keep making my way through the list!
My Picks from My Korean Kitchen
So this Korean Beef Bowl (aka Korean BBQ Beef) I’m sharing today is very slightly adapted from her recipe for Bulgogi – Korean BBQ Beef. So you can have absolute confidence that this is the real deal!
The use of grated apple and onion in a marinade is quite uniquely Korean. It’s a fabulous way to get a bit of sweet and touch of tang from the apple and flavour from the onion into a Marinade. This exact Marinade is fantastic used with chicken, beef and pork for grilling on the BBQ. In fact, it features frequently at my fusion-Asian BBQ’s I put on!
Hope you give this a try! It really is fabulously delish! – Nagi x
This recipe makes enough for 2 to 3 people, served with rice as a main.
- 14 oz / 400 g thinly sliced beef , any good quality tender cut suitable for grilling (Note 1)
- 1 scallion/shallot stem , green and white part separated, both finely sliced (Note 2)
- 1/2 large onion (brown, yellow or white), peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium carrot , peeled, cut vertically then cut into thin slices on the diagonal
- 1 tbsp cooking oil (I use peanut or vegetable oil)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 3 tbsp ordinary soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp mirin (Note 3)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp grated onion (brown, white or yellow)
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 3 tbsp grated red apple (not green - they are too tart) OR nashi pears
- 1/2 tsp minced ginger
- Black pepper
Blot the beef dry using a paper towel then place into a bowl.
Mix together the Marinade ingredients in a small bowl, then add the beef. Stir gently to coat the beef, cover with cling wrap and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. Because the meat is thin, you still get good flavour even with 1 hour of marinating.
Heat the oil in a wok or large fry pan over high heat.
Add the onion and white part of the scallion/shallots. Cook for 1 minute.
Then add the beef, including the Marinade, and carrots. Cook for around 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the beef is just cooked.
Remove from heat, then toss through the sesame seeds.
Serve with rice, sprinkled with extra sesame seeds and the reserved green part of the scallions.
1. As with all stir fries, this cooks very quickly so you need to use a decent cut of beef for it. Slow cooking cuts, like chuck, are not suitable. Sirloin, t-bone and scotch fillet are excellent for this.
You can actually find very thinly sliced frozen beef at Asian grocery stores. If you have one in your area, this is a fantastic tip! Note only is it cheaper, you save yourself the cutting time and it is super handy to have in your freezer for quick stir fries.
2. I separate the green and white part of the scallion because I cook the white part and use the green part as garnish.
3. Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine used for cooking. You can substitute with dry sherry or sake + 1/2 tsp of sugar. If you cannot have alcohol in your cooking, substitute with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar + 1/2 tsp sugar.
4. Adapted from this recipe: Bulgogi - Korean BBQ Beef by My Korean Kitchen. A wonderful blog for authentic Korean recipes and provides great information about Korean ingredients. It's run by Sue who is a Korean living in Australia which is great because it means I know I can get all the ingredients she uses!
Korean Beef Bulgogi nutrition assuming this serves 3 and is made using Sirloin steak.