Friday, February 28, 2014

15-Minute "Bulgogi"

Bulgogi is a Korean classic and one of my all-time favorite meals. I don't make it too often since it requires wafer-thin slices of beef (and I positively SUCK at slicing meat thinly), several hours of marinating along with a decent amount of prep, and careful cooking. It's not as hard to prepare as I just made it sound (here is my 'classic' Bulgogi recipe), but it does require a bit more time and effort than most people prefer. 

Unfortunately, Birmingham is kind of a desert when it comes to Korean food - we don't have many Korean restaurants; the only one here that is authentic and even worth going to is Seoul, and apparently the management has changed since my last visit and it might not even be good anymore. The last time we went to Ginza, our food arrived after an hour of waiting, STILL FROZEN in the middle. Needless to say, we haven't been back, and apparently we aren't the only ones.

Luckily, I can satisfy a bulgogi craving whenever it hits quite easily - like, in 15 minutes! All of the ingredients used are readily available at just about any grocery store (you may have to check the "Asian" aisle for the sesame oil), so you don't have to drive to any specialty markets. I usually have all of these ingredients on hand at any given time, so I can prepare this dish whenever I want. The secret is in the meat - instead of using expensive marbled beef and marinating for hours, I use ground beef, which is flavored with a rich bulgogi sauce after browning. It's similar to my Lo Ba Bung, but with Korean flavors instead of Taiwanese.

So, the next time you have a craving for bulgogi, but no time on your hands, try this quick and easy version - the longest part of the whole process is waiting for the rice to cook! I also whipped up two quick banchan dishes to go with my bulgogi: shigemchi muchim and sukju namul muchim.

15-Minute "Bulgogi"
adapted from Lizzy Writes

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Toasted sesame seeds

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. 

Add the ground beef and cook until completely browned, crumbling the beef as it cooks. 

Meanwhile, whisk the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and ginger together until combined. 

Once the beef is completely browned and crumbled, drain off the excess fat. Add the brown sugar mixture to the pan along with the green onions. Stir and simmer until heated through, about 2-3 minutes. 

Serve the beef atop steamed rice and garnish with more scallions and toasted sesame seeds.


  1. Oh no!! Seoul changed owners?? This is a tragedy.

    I'm going to try your recipe. Bulgogi is my favorite Korean food too. I got some yummy BBQ sauce at the Asian grocery on Green Springs. Cant wait to try the two together!

    1. That's what I heard! Urbanspoon & Yelp kind of confirm it as well :(

      Luckily, I go to Huntsville pretty regularly, so I can always get my fill of Korean food when up there :D

      Please let me know how the bulgogi turns out - I bet it will go great with the BBQ sauce!