This beef bulgogi is easy to prepare, highly adaptable in how you serve it and full of delicious flavor. Plus, even better, it's perfect for meal prep (in more ways than one!)
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Like many people, I imagine, the range of foods I had growing up was a little limited. I grew up in Scotland where we only really had Chinese and Indian subcontinent immigrants, and a few from around Europe. The restaurant scene then wasn't that great (not that we went out all that much anyway).
I was lucky in that I traveled with my parents quite a bit, which helped broaden my tastes, but that was mainly Europe and Canada. As a result, I didn’t really get to know more Asian cuisines until I was quite a bit older.
We’ve grown to enjoy a number of Korean dishes, with vegetarian bibimbap and Korean sashimi rice bowl becoming instant hits. I've made a pork bulgogi as well, but I have to say the more common beef bulgogi is definitely a favorite.
It's a tasty meal that the whole family can enjoy, since it's not spicy, and it’s also a great meal prep recipe.
Making Korean beef bulgogi
This dish is really easy to make and is easy to add variety as well, making it perfect for different tastes or to vary it over a couple days. Simply slice up the beef and add to a simple marinade.
After marinating overnight, or through the day, it’s a quick cook when you're ready to eat. It’s great served with rice, and you can then add whatever vegetables you like alongside.
Make ahead tips
One of the great parts is you can make it ahead of time in a number of ways:
- You can freeze it after adding the marinade then let it defrost in the fridge overnight when you want to use it. The defrosting time acts as the marinating time as well.
- Another option is to cook extra and then use some for another meal either cold or warmed up, adding different sides as you prefer.
How to change up this dish
While there’s a suggested combination below, here are a few ideas to change things up:
- Try noodles, quinoa or couscous instead of rice;
- Add some gochujang sauce or other hot sauce if you like it a bit spicier;
- Switch up the sides – try some kimchi or wilted greens, sauteed eggplant or softened beansprouts seasoned with a little sesame oil.
Beef bulgogi is a great way to eat a healthy, tasty meal. You’ll want to enjoy this recipe again and again.
Tools to make this dish
(affiliate link) I made this on my Le Creuset Cast Iron Grill Pan which works really well (note an outdoor grill would need to be lined to save the this pieces of meat from falling through).
Looking for other marinated meats? Try these!
- Anticuchos (Peruvian skewers)
- Jamaican jerk chicken
- Sosaties (South African meat and apricot kebabs)
- Plus get more grilling ideas, as well as summery drinks and sides, in the summer recipes archives.
For beef - marinated ahead of time
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ Asian pear peeled, core removed and grated
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced (1tbsp is approx 3-4 cloves)
- 1 ½ lb lean beef eg sirloin tips, tenderloin
- ¾ cup rice or slightly more if you want a higher proportion of rice
- 4 oz cucumber cut julienne (thin batons)
- ½ teaspoon salt approx
- 4 oz carrots peeled and cut julienne (thin batons)
- 4 oz shitake mushrooms tough stem removed and sliced
Ahead of time
- In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, Asian pear, scallions, garlic and ginger if using. Cut the beef into thin slices, trimming any fat as you go. Cut the slices into bite sized pieces if too long then add to the marinade and mix. Leave to marinade a few hours or overnight.
When ready to cook
- I'd recommend cooking your sides first as the beef cooks quickly. Set the rice to cook, according to package instructions.
- Sprinkle salt over the sliced cucumber and leave to sit for a few minutes. Then gently squeeze out excess water.
- Warm a little oil in a medium skillet and add the carrots. Cook for a couple minutes until they are just soft, then remove and set aside. Add the sliced mushroom, adding a little more oil if needed, and cook for a minute or two so they soften. Set aside.
- When ready to cook beef, preheat a grill pan to a medium-high heat. Take slices of the beef, shaking off excess marinade, and cook in a single layer in batches on the grill pan, turning as you see the first side is starting to cook then just a minute or two more on the other side. They will cook quickly, so watch closely. As each batch cooks, set aside and keep it warm.
- Put together the bowls with some rice, beef and some of each of the vegetables. Top with a pinch of sesame seeds, if desired. This dish is great enjoyed warm but is also good cold.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
I first shared this recipe as Beef Bulgogi Meal Prep Bowls on the Sunday Supper Movement site, where I am a contributor.