Picture of Bulgogi
Bulgogi is surprisingly easy to make even without one of those in-table grills. Mmmmm, bulgogi.
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Step 1: Slice beef

Picture of Slice beef
Get a nice big, SHARP knife, and cut the thinnest slices you can off of your hunk of meat, making sure to cut across the grain. (A good butcher can do this for you, but I don't always think that far ahead.)
Cutting the meat when it's well-chilled (or even frozen) helps to get nice even slices. Don't fret if you can't see through them; just do the best you can at cutting them thin.
The cut of meat you select isn't terribly important; just try to get a decently-sized cross section for your slices. I've also used bison roasts to good effect.

Step 2: Marinate with brown sugar and garlic

Picture of Marinate with brown sugar and garlic
Acquire a suitable bowl or pan, preferably with a lid as you'll be leaving it in the refrigerator for a while.
Finely chop a large handful of garlic and place in a prep bowl. Fill another prep bowl with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar.
Designate one hand for meat, and one hand for toppings. This should make cleaning up raw meat-contaminated things much easier.
Sprinkle the bottom of the bowl with a layer of garlic and sugar, then add a single layer of beef slices, making sure not to overlap.
Sprinkle with more sugar and garlic, then continue alternating layers of meat with sugar and garlic.
Place bowl in the refrigerator for at least one hour; overnight is fine as well.
I wanna make it. But i don't have toasting tool.
implaxis6 years ago
I've been trying to capture a decent bulgogi flavor, but apparently I've been doing it wrong by using a wok. It tends to steam the meat more and doesn't give it that nice charred texture. Thanks for making this clear!
I'm a burgeoning wok user and the one thing I've found is that the typical stove top just cannot get the wok hot enough. I've found that the key to good wok cooking is INTENSE heat otherwise you really are just steaming and not getting the really delicious caramelization and texture that wok cooking is famous for. I've been using the propane base for my turkey fryer and it's works incredibly well. I made a crispy orange beef the other day and it was spot on. Stir fried vegetables also come out just right. You have to get that wok HOT!!!
Udon4 years ago
x z i t5 years ago
dlamblin8 years ago
My Korean mother-in-law, at first tickled that there would be a bulgogi instructable, would like to comment: Tell them that there's no vinegar in bulgogi. Rice wine maybe, but not vinegar.
canida (author)  dlamblin8 years ago
Thanks for the input! I got my recipe via a Korean roommate, and it's possible she just substituted rice wine vinegar (which we always have around) for rice wine she'd otherwise have had to specially purchase. It's always good to know when you're cutting corners, so you can decide whether it's a good trade-off or not. I'll have to do a side-by-side comparison one of these days to see how that substitution changes the taste/texture. She also told me to use grated Asian pear, which apparently acts as a meat tenderizer, but we rarely have that either. Does your mom have an opinion on that one?
Kaiven canida7 years ago
my mom makes homemade bulgogi( another korean word, meaning "bull or beef" and "meat". Basically cow meat) an i don't think she uses vinegar or rice wine. she uses soysauce, sugar, garlic powder, black pepper, sesame oil, and some water.
the actually / literal translation is "fire meat"
Kaiven Kaiven7 years ago
oh, and my mom likes to stir fry bulgogi, about 3 inch pieces.
Tsurugi_Oni6 years ago
For the marinade you should also add in 1 pureed Korean Pears. The kind that are like 1.5lbs, individually wrapped (like $5 each!), and is packaged at the peak of perfection. My mom is from the countrysides of S. Korea and she would always use these pears. The only chance of finding high quality ones is by checking local Asian markets, but they're necessary if you want to add a natural fruity sweetness to your meat.
canida (author)  Tsurugi_Oni6 years ago
My Korean ex-roommate confirms this! I'll do it next time for sure.
Subvert7 years ago
I've cheated and gotten the pre-sliced beef and marinade from my favorite asian market before, and loved it. In the process of making it on the grill, I thought it would also work pretty well cooked fajita-style on a hot skillet. As a midwesterner from a city historically known for its stockyard and bbq, I'm really surprised there aren't more korean bbq's around. I think they'd all love it if they only knew about bulgogi.
canida (author)  Subvert7 years ago
It's not really cheating as long as you cook it yourself! ;)
I like the fajita-style theory- you'd have to keep it really hot to sear it well, though.

Yeah, I figure it 's just a matter of time before Korean BBQ infiltrates the heartland. People will love it!
bigwilly7 years ago
try grating an pear in the marinade, i have had it at a Korean dinner and it adds a nice flavor
canida (author)  bigwilly7 years ago
I've been told that adding asian pear helps tenderize the meat. Sounds great, but I rarely have them sitting around.
jimon0077 years ago
Easy to make and quick to disappear. You will love the smell and taste. Mmmmmm actually yesterday I tried it and loved it so much - thanks
homemade7 years ago
there is another dish that is similar called kaegogi, have you ever heard of it?
canida (author)  homemade7 years ago
I'm not familiar with kaegogi. How is it made, and how does it differ from bulgogi?
Kaiven canida7 years ago
yes, i'm half Korean, and my mom is Full Korean. Kaegogi is made of ket, or dog. Get, which sounds about the same means "crab". Never go to a korean person and say,"I like ket matsal ( matsal is meat)!" They'll think you eat dogs. This happened to me when i went to korea and visitedd some relatives.
homemade canida7 years ago
It is purely cultural but in the traditional Korean dish instead of substituting beef it is more common to use a certain breed of dog meat.
pmetro8 years ago
I would serve this with white rice .
you DO serve with rice. At least, everyone i know who makes this does (including my mom)
royalestel8 years ago
My sister-in-law (the one with the Korean ex husband) taught me a simpler recipe that used soy sauce, sugar, and a red soybean paste from the asian food store. The only problem is she never uses exact amounts when mixing ingredients and I can NEVER get the dang flavor right. So anyway, THANKS for a recipe with actual amounts. Think I'll try this one--I think I even have all of the ingredients at home right now. :) Mmmm . .. Bulgolgi
implaxis8 years ago
Looked so good, I made some tonight! You can speed up the marinate time if you have one of those Foodsaver canisters.
figment8 years ago
Bulgogi is even better when served from a motorcycle with one of those grills built onto the back! (I gotta find those pics from my Korea tour!)
trebuchet038 years ago
That does look rather good :P Is there any particular reason that you don't let the meat rest before eating?
canida (author)  trebuchet038 years ago
The purpose of letting meat rest is to allow the juices to settle back through the entire piece of meat. In this case we're dealing with extremely thin slices, so all resting will really accomplish is to let the meat go cold.
it would loose its magical powers
fishcatcher8 years ago
what the hecK?
gpd2098 years ago
Oh, on grating ginger with a microplane. You can use a microplane quite easily with this little trick: freeze the ginger first and grate it frozen. None of the problems with fibers will occur. You don't even have to skin the ginger before grating--just scrub it to get it clean, freeze it in chunks that are easy to handle on the microplane, and grate it while frozen solid. This is the same principal as thin slicing meat when it is still cold or frozen.
gpd2098 years ago
Thanks--wow! With all these photos, this is better than any cookbook I've seen :)
MMM,sounds great
austin8 years ago
that looks delicious