Sunday Night Dinner – Korean Beef Bulgogi (불고기)

I thought that the perfect way to christen my blog with food-related content would be to share with you my experience making Korean Beef Bulgogi.  I’ve never tried making Asian cuisine… should be interesting!  I found this recipe at another blog, you can read the original post here.  This blog has many amazing recipes by the way.  I will definitely be referring to it in the future when I need a new Asian recipe.

The thing that I love most about this recipe was the simplicity.  Prep time was probably only 10 minutes… and probably because I didn’t really have much idea of what I was doing and spent most of it scrambling around.  This is definitely one of those meals that you quickly throw together in the morning and can serve it to guests in the evening.

  • Thinly sliced beef (strip loin)
  • Wild Garlic
  • Sesame Oil
  • Small onion
  • Small brown Asian pear
  • Soy Sauce
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Sugar

Here are our ingredients.  As you can see, there are relatively few – and part of me really enjoys that.  I’m not the type of person who enjoys tackling a recipe that seems to have 100 random ingredients.  When you have so many, are you really adding to the overall flavours of the dish, or are you just masking them into some ambiguous and generic taste?

I took some minor liberties with the ingredients from the original recipe.  I wasn’t able to find the thinly sliced rib-eye steak as prescribed in the original recipe.  I do know that some grocery stores in my hometown carried it regularly.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find it so I ended up substituting sandwich cut strip loin instead.  I figured it was still cut thin enough to be passable.  The only thing I wonder about is tenderness.  The beef was still a little tough, but further marinating might eliminate this.

I also chose to use wild garlic as opposed to regular.  I am a huge fan of garlic, a true testament to my love of Italian foods.  I found a small farmers market today and one of the stands was selling the wild garlic.  I always do my best to use local foods so the local garlic was a bonus, picked from our own surrounding forests!

I used a Tupperware hand powered food processor that my aunt gave me as a house warming gift.  It did a wonderful job of chopping up all of the ingredients.  The green you see in the image comes from the leaves of the wild garlic plants.  For the wild garlic you can eat both the cloves and the leaves, just be sure not to use the red stems in between.

Mix the marinade until it has the consistency that you like.  I didn’t go for pure liquid, mine still had small bits of garlic and pear in it.

After that you let the marinade just do it’s work.  The recommended minimum is 2 hours but I would definitely recommend more.  The pear in the marinade acts as a meat tenderizer and I found mine still a bit tough.  I’m hoping that will change in the leftovers that I have for tomorrow.  I will keep all of you posted.

The last step is pretty simple, just fry the beef until cooked.  I had added a tiny bit of sesame oil to the pan just to be sure there wouldn’t be any sticking, but I realized afterwards that really wasn’t necessary.  I also didn’t dispose of the excess liquid once the beef was cooked.  Instead, I saved it and used it as a sauce to drizzle over the beef and rice that I had served it with.  The marinade itself is actually quite good and I think would do as a nice sauce to add to rice by itself… perhaps another recipe idea?

Sadly, I am not the greatest food photographer nor am I the best food presenter.  Read the blog with the original recipe if you want to really see what this dish could become.  Rest assured that no matter how boring my presentation is, this recipe was sincerely very good.

Final Thoughts

My final thoughts on this recipe is that it is extremely good.   As mentioned before, the sauce itself is good enough to be made by itself to serve with rice.   It will be interesting to see if extra time marinating the beef will help it to become more tender.  As I had to use strip loin, I found it a little bit tough still.

This meal is great because it is very easy to make.  The marinade takes maybe 10 minutes to prepare and cooking the beef is only a few minutes per side depending on how thinly sliced it is.  The only thing that takes a while is of course marinating the beef.  You could easily prepare the marinade in the morning and do the cooking after work for a quick meal.  The ease of the recipe also makes it good for hosting dinners.  My recipe today easily yields 3-4 meals for myself, so depending on portion size, it can go a long way.

In terms of authenticity – I’m not quite sure.  I have had Bulgogi from Korean restaurants in my home town, and I wouldn’t say that this really tasted like them.  I do realize that Korean restaurants aren’t always authentic, as many ethnic restaurants modify tastes to suit the local populace.  I do believe that I could have added more sesame oil for more Asian flavour.  It would really enjoy it if someone who has tried Bulgogi in Korea could try out this recipe and give a comparison.  I’m really looking for authentic flavoured dishes, but it’s hard when you don’t have much experience to go off of.

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