This easy Korean Bulgogi recipes includes thin slices of marinated pork or beef, pan-seared and served over hot steamed white rice or kimchi fried rice. We love it served with bibimbap bowls or in lettuce wraps.
I first fell in love with Bulgogi at a Korean restaurant I frequented during college, and again at Seoul Taco in St. Louis, MO. Now I love cooking bulgogi at home because the tantalizing aroma of searing meat and spices brings everyone to the table with an appetite!
The word Bulgogi (불고기) literally means “fire meat”. It’s absolutely delicious and, because its sliced so thin, it marinates and cooks quickly. It’s traditionally grilled on skewers but I love this quick and easy pan-fried version, for convenience.
For the meat I usually use pork tenderloin because it’s lean, reasonably priced, and what I first had when I fell in love with bulgogi. You could also use sirloin, ribeye or other expensive cuts of beef. Chicken would work fine as well. Don’t marinate the meat for longer than a few hours, and most importantly, be careful not to overcook it!
How to make Bulgogi:
Toss the meat in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will make it much easier to slice!
Slice the meat across the grain into very thin slices (⅛ inch) and place in a large ziplock bag or mixing bowl.
Whisk together the marinade ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and one chopped green onion (save the remaining for garnish).
Add marinade to pork and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than overnight.
Brown meat: Heat oil in a skillet and cook bulgogi meat in a single layer (one half batch at a time), for a few minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook. Repeat for second batch of meat.
Serve warm in a bulgogi bowl, wrap, or salad.
If your supermarket carries Asian pears, grate one up and include it in the marinade. This fruit contains an enzyme that tenderizes meat.
Place raw meat in a freezer safe bag and cover it with marinade. You may need to divide the portion in half and store it in two separate bags. Remove as much air as possible and freeze it flat.
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or quick-thaw in a big bowl of cold water when you get home from work. Bulgogi tastes best freshly cooked so freezing it raw is better.
More International Recipes to try:
- 1 pound pork tenderloin , or beef flank steak
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger , or 2 tsp dry ground ginger
- 2-3 teaspoons Korean chili paste (gochujang) , or substitute Thai red chili sauce, sriracha, or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 green onions , chopped, divided
- 2 Tablespoons oil (vegetable or canola) , for cooking meat
- Slice the pork tenderloin into very thin slices and place the meat in a large ziplock bag. Set aside.
- In a bowl whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and one chopped green onion (reserve the remaining chopped green onion for garnish on the bowls).
- Pour the marinade into the bag with the pork and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
- When ready to cook the pork, add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil to a large wok or skillet over medium high heat.
- Once hot, add half of the meat, placing it in a single layer in the pan. Allow it to brown for a few minutes, without touching it.
- Flip each piece of meat to the other side and allow to brown for another 2 minutes or so, until cooked through, but not overcooked. Remove to a plate.
- Add remaining oil to the pan. Once hot, add remaining pork and cook in the same manner. Remove to a plate.
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I originally shared this recipe July 2020. Updated July 2021.