(ChiHon Kim)

There are a few choice dishes that one might think of when dreaming of Korean food. Bulgogi, Korean barbeque beef, is one of those.

Literally translated to “fire meat,” bulgogi is just that… fire because it’s so delicious! As you travel throughout the Peninsula and abroad, you’ll notice there are a few variations on the way it is prepared. For the most part, however, ingredients like soy sauce, minced garlic, sugar, and sesame oil are standard for bulgogi.

If you’re wanting to bring the taste of Korea to your kitchen, give this one a try. I dug deep into my memory to when I served in the Korean Navy and had to pull kitchen duty aboard ship for this bulgogi recipe.

- PREP TIME: 10 mins - COOK TIME: 5 mins

- MARINATING TIME: At the least 3 hours or overnight - TOTAL TIME: 15 -20 mins - DIFFICULTY: Easy - SERVINGS: 4


• 1 lb thinly-sliced beef (500g)

• Some thinly sliced mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, or button mushrooms) about 40g (optional)

• 1 cup thinly sliced onion (150g)

• 1 cup sliced scallions (80g)

• Sesame seeds (optional)


• 1 Tbsp minced garlic

• 2 Tbsp minced onion (optional)

• 2 pieces minced pineapple or kiwi, Asian pear, red apple (optional)

• 2 Tbsp brown sugar (or 8 Tbsp pineapple juice)

• 3 Tbsp sesame oil

• 5 Tbsp dark soy sauce

• Black pepper


• Choose the cut of meat: Tender parts of beef such as sirloin, blade, tenderloin are commonly used for this dish. While ribeye is used often, if you’re comfortable with tenderizing meat cuts, then choose whichever you prefer. For my recipe, I chose a chuck roll, which is a little tough but less expensive than other cuts, but it still worked well for my bulgogi.

• My way to make meat more tender: I usually use pre-cut bulgogi from the freezer section of a Korean grocery store. If you have a large portion of meat in your fridge or prefer to cut meat yourself, freeze the meat for about 2 hours, then slice it.

Not every cut of meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender, so I usually use pineapple to tenderize it. This is a good tip that I learned from the battleship kitchen. Minced Korean pear, red apple, or kiwi also work well.

  1. Cut the meat into 2-3mm-thick and place them in a deep pan or food container. If you get tough meat such as chuck roll. then cut it into 1-1.5mm-thick slices.

  2. Gather all the marinade ingredients into a bowl. Instead of brown sugar, I mixed in the juice from canned pineapple as well as a few pieces of minced pineapple and a minced half onion.

  3. Marinate the meat for at least 3 hours. I sometimes marinate the meat overnight in the fridge like I learned in the Navy.

  4. Remove the bowl of marinated bulgogi from the fridge and set it aside.

  5. Slice the veggies thinly, then gently mix them in with the meat.

  6. Over high heat, add the mixture into a pan and cook until the meat begins to sear. Be careful not to overcook the meat, so this process should take about 1 to 1.5 minutes per side.

  7. Put black peppers and sprinkle sesame seeds on it. Serve it with a bowl of rice. Bon appetite or 잘 먹겠습니다! (Pronounced: jal meok-ke-sseum-nida)!

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