Many Korean Americans have fond memories of church picnics where the foil is rolled out long and poked with holes to cook bulgogi on the charcoal grills of a public park. Mmmm. I can just smell the smoky goodness now.
Everyone and their mother has her own bulgogi recipe and most of them are delicious. My favorite recipe caused me to become the designated bulgogi chef for all our large family gatherings and I can vouch for doubling or even quadrupling this recipe. Make sure to have some red leaf lettuce and ssamjang to make lettuce wraps. Bonus points for Korean perilla leaves!
Like my go-to galbi recipe, this one is from Chang Sun Young and is the recipe that she wrote down for her daughters-in-law. My own mother makes a wonderful bulgogi but could only tell me to put in a bit of this and a bit of that, so Ms. Chang’s cookbook was a lifesaver for me when I was a young bride.
Make a big batch and freeze any leftovers in ziploc bags which can be thawed for any number of Korean meals such as bibimbap, japchae, kimbap, or even grilled at your next picnic.
You can purchase bulgogi pre-cut at a Korean grocery store, but if that’s not available, ask your butcher to thin slice rib eye against the grain (bacon cut).
Classic Bulgogi Recipe
Adapted from A Korean Mother’s Cooking Notes
- 2 Pounds Sliced Rib Eye
- 1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Sake
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 2 Tbsp Crushed Roasted Sesame
- 1/3 Cup Scallions
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Garlic
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
Make the Bulgogi Marinade by mixing together all the ingredients in a bowl.
Place a layer of beef in a large pan or bowl. Sprinkle with the marinade, and repeat. When finished, mix the meat with your hand to evenly distribute the sauce. Marinade for at least an hour, up to overnight.
Grill outdoors on charcoal or gas grill, or cook indoors on high heat a Korean ridged pan. Meat should be a bit charred on the edges but don’t overcook.
Add any number of vegetables to the marinade such as sliced onions, mushrooms, and carrots.