Flavorful marinated strips of fork-tender beef are served with crisp hot onions and peppers in this recipe for Beef Bulgogi. Bulgogi is one of the most well-known Korean foods and I’ve been trying to make it at home for years now. I’ve tried some ridiculously complicated recipes with tons of special ingredients and nothing tasted right. I finally asked my friend, Shinae, if she had a bulgogi recipe for me to try and sure enough, her recipe was perfect!
Similar to the way that Jap Chae makes my heart go pitter pat, Bulgogi is Sean’s favorite Korean food. When I first tasted this beef, as it was coming out of the hot skillet, I almost squealed with happiness. I grabbed a fork and ran a bite to Sean’s office for him to try. We both loved it. Sean followed me back to the kitchen and kept sneaking bites from the waiting bowl as I finished cooking the rest of the meat. I’ve made this a couple of times now and our kids love it every bit as much as we do.
In typical fashion, I’ve added a little heat to our version. Sambal Oelek chili paste is my go-to spicy seasoning for marinades and I added a few tablespoons to this recipe. The resulting beef isn’t at all spicy, by our standards, but it has a great flavor with just a tiny bit of heat. The recipe is absolutely delicious both with and without the heat, so feel free to skip it entirely, if that isn’t your thing!
Recipe lightly adapted from and with thanks to my friend Shinae
- Beef Ingredients:
- 2 pounds beef skirt or flank steak, sliced as thinly as possible against the grain
- 2 green onions sliced very thin (green and white parts), about 1/4 - 1/3 cup worth
- 6 garlic cloves minced, about 2 tablespoons worth
- 1/2 small apple finely grated, or 3 tablespoons applesauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Optional: 1 - 3 tablespoons chili paste I use Sambal Oelek
- For serving:
- 4 bell peppers I used 2 green, 1 red, 1 yellow
- 2 medium onions
- 2 - 3 tablespoons light flavored olive oil divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- cooked rice
- Combine all the beef ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with your hands to distribute all the seasonings. Let the meat marinate on the counter for about 30 minutes. Set the meat next to the stove, along with a second empty bowl.
- While the meat is marinating, prepare the peppers and onions, slicing them into long strips about 1/2" wide. Heat a large stainless skillet over medium high heat, add 2 teaspoons of oil and let it warm for a few seconds, when it is shimmering add all of the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt, toss with tongs or a spatula and cover with a lid for 2 minutes. Uncover and toss or stir, continue cooking until the vegetables are hot, but still very crisp, just 1-2 more minutes. Transfer to vegetables to a serving bowl or platter and tent lightly with foil.
- Place the skillet back over medium high heat and add 2 more teaspoons of oil. When the oil is shimmering, add about a quarter of the marinated beef to the skillet. Spread it across the skillet and allow it to cook without touching for about 30 seconds. Stir with a spatula or toss with tongs to flip it and continue cooking, stirring occasionally for about 30-60 seconds longer. The meat should be browned and still slightly pink. (It's going to continue cooking for a few more moments as it rests off the stove.) Scrape the meat and any juices into the clean empty bowl, place the skillet back over the hot stove and add 2 teaspoons of oil. Repeat with the rest of the meat.
- When all the meat has finished cooking, you can stir everything together in the skillet again to serve (make sure the stove is OFF and that nothing will be cooking at this point) or layer the meat over the vegetables on a serving platter. Serve the bulgogi, peppers, and onions over rice if desired. Enjoy!
It is crucial that you slice the meat against the grain in this type of recipe. The resulting pieces of beef will be perfectly tender this way. You're going to cook the meat in four separate batches. It only takes a few minutes total, so please do not try to rush it and cook it all at once. If you crowd the skillet with the beef, it will basically "boil" in it's juices and it won't sear the strips or brown the meat.