This is one of the most popular Korean meat dishes throughout the world and has been around for thousands of years. Naturally, the cooking method has evolved over time and varies by region. It is often grilled with garlic and sliced onions to add flavour to the meat. The meat is then usually wrapped in lettuce and eaten with a ssamjang (a thick, red spicy paste). Serves 4.
About the beef … the tender parts of beef are ideal to use in bulgogi. And commonly used ones are top sirloin and beef tenderloin. However, the names of cuts will vary around the world. A favourite seems to be scotch fillet (known as rib eye in the US). It is a little more expensive than other popular steak cuts, but not as expensive as eye fillet (known as beef tenderloin in the US).
- Scotch fillet / rib eye is known to have more flavour and juicy texture than other steak cuts. It also has a good amount of marbling, so cooking it over a grill or pan frying is quite suitable for this cut.
- Take the meat out from the packaging. Wrap each fillet individually with cling wrap. Place the wrapped meat on to a metal baking tray.
- Put the tray into the freezer and let the meat partially freeze for about 2 to 2.5 hours. The meat is ready if your knife goes through smoothly and you’re not having difficulties in thinly slicing it. If you do, you should put the meat back into the freezer and freeze it a bit longer.
- Remove the meat from the freezer and remove the cling wrap. Slice the meat thinly across the grain. Ideal thickness is 2mm to 3mm (1/8 inch). Now the meat is ready to be marinated with bulgogi sauce.
- Combine pear, garlic, soy sauce, gochugaru, ginger, sugar and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag or medium bowl. Using a sharp knife, slice meat into very thin strips. Add to marinade, seal bag, and squish everything around until the meat is coated. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes or chill up to 8 hours.
- Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high until oil is shimmering. Remove half of meat from marinade, letting excess drip back into bag; season lightly with salt and cook in a single layer without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Toss meat and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through and crisp at edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, remaining meat, and more salt.
- Serve topped with scallions.
- Serve the bulgogi with some steamed Korean rice and with other Korean side dishes.
- You can also use some lettuce leaves and perilla leaves to wrap the bulgogi. Don’t forget to pair it with some Korean ssamjang (Korean BBQ dipping sauce) and some kimchi (spicy or non-spicy) too!
- The pear is to aid the tenderisation of the meat. Ideally, use Asian or Nashi pears. If unavailable, you could substitute red apple, kiwi fruit or pineapple.