Simple Bulgogi Recipe

There are few dishes that define the taste of Korea like bulgogi. The marinade is very easy to make with ingredients you already have on hand. The meat can be purchased pre-sliced ever so thinly from a good Asian market, or you can thinly slice it yourself after 30 minutes in the freezer. Add it to your Bibimbap for those who eat meat, and you’ve got a fast mid-week supper that’s easy to customize for different eaters. (Photos credit: Suan Elman.)


simple bulgogi recipe
Photo by Wikimedia / CC BY
  • 1 apple, Granny Smith preferred, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free, dark soy sauce, low-sodium preferred
  • 3 tablespoons  dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 large garlic cloves, blossom end and any green centers removed
  • 2 pound boneless rib eye, partially frozen, very thinly sliced (see Kitchen Tips)


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the apple and onion until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses.
  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame seed oil, black pepper, and garlic to the bowl and pulse to combine.
  3. Pour the marinade into a very large zip-top plastic bag that is sitting in a large, non-reactive mixing bowl. Add the meat slices, one by one to the marinade, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. (It can marinate for as little as 30 minutes and still be delicious for a fast midweek option.)
  4. Heat a grill pan or griddle over high heat. When very, very hot, gently lay a few meat slices, without overcrowding, on the hot grill or griddle and cook just until the sugar caramelizes, turning once, about 1 minute. Cook in batches and wipe down the grill pan with wet paper towels clasped in long tongs. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Traditionally boneless rib eye is the meat of choice, but we tested a much less expensive cut (flank) and it was very flavorful, so feel free to experiment. Make sure the grill or griddle is extremely hot for any cut of meat, so you can develop a sweet crust. For the less expensive cuts of meat be sure to cook it quickly to prevent the meat from getting tough.
  2. If you are slicing it at home, after you purchase the meat, rinse it in cold water and pat with paper towels until very dry. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer, unwrap, and place on a cutting board. Cut slices as thin as you can, ideally ⅛ inch thick. Layer the slices in batches on parchment or waxed paper as you work your way through all the meat.

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