I make some form of a stir-fry about once a week such as this Beef and Orange Stir-Fry. I’m always looking for ways to vary them and try new flavours. I had never even heard of Beef Bulgogi until himself came home one day and told me about a Korean food stand near where he works. Well, the nerd in me went into over drive and I had to find out more. This beef dish is utterly delicious, sweet from the honey and pear, salty from the soy sauce and with the nuttiness of sesame oil.
At that time I had just bought Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo and there was a great recipe there for the dish. In it they explain that the word Bulgogi literally translates to ‘fire’ and ‘meat’. It is traditionally grilled over an open flame on a barbecue, you can do this or use a griddle pan over a high heat but I have stir-fried in a wok, just because I like to keep things simple!
The recipe in My Korean Kitchen did not have any chilli and I wondered if I added some would I be lynched for destroying a classic. However, when I saw a recipe in Melissa Clarks’ Dinner: Changing the Game which included gochujang paste, I was delighted and decided to add it to my Korean Stir-Fried Beef Bulgogi.
Useful tips & links:
- In my post for Korean Chicken Wings I have already discussed using and substituting Gochujang paste and mirin. If you don’t have the paste, use some regular chilli powder instead.
- Usually the beef is served with various sides such as kimchi and cucumber on a platter. Guests then help themselves and wrap the beef and extras in lettuce leaves. I decided to make this as a stir-fry and served with boiled rice and stir-fried veg.
- Asian or Nashi pears are used in the marinade which sweeten the sauce but also tenderise the beef. I have never even seen one of these pears so I used a regular pear but I have also read many recipes that use the flesh of a red apple instead.
- Traditionally Bulgogi is made with beef but there are several recipes available using chicken and pork. If your knife is not very sharp and you’re having difficulty slicing the steak, pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes and it will be easier to slice then.
- I use a cheap mini processor to blend the marinade but if you don’t have one, grate the pear, onion, garlic and ginger before mixing in the rest of the ingredients.
- The beef needs time to marinate so you can prep this the night before and have a speedy meal in no time.
- Talk about great minds, Vicky from The Irish Plate just posted her recipe for Bulgogi here.
Korean Stir-Fried Beef Bulgogi
- 400g of beef sirloin or striploin steaks, finely sliced
- ½ an Asian (nashi) pear or regular pear, roughly chopped
- ½ an onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3cm piece of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of mirin
- ½ -1 tablespoon of gochujang red pepper paste
- Black pepper
To cook & serve
- 1 tablespoon of neutral oil such as sunflower oil, do not use olive oil.
- The remaining ½ of the onion, finely sliced
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- Sesame seeds
- Steamed rice
- Make the marinade by simply putting all of the ingredients in the first list, apart from the beef, into a small blender and blitz until smooth.
- Finely slice the beef and pour over the marinade. Cover the beef with cling film and allow it to marinate at room temperature for one hour or in the fridge for a few hours. Overnight is even better.
- Take the beef out of the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature before cooking. Cook your rice now if you are using it. Heat a wok or stir-fry pan over a high heat and add a tablespoon of oil.
- Add the sliced onion to the hot oil and fry until it starts to soften.
- Remove the beef from the marinade and drain well. Fry the beef for a few minutes at a high heat. It will be even better if you get a little charring on the meat.
- Remove the onion and beef from the pan and pour the reserved marinade into the hot pan. Cook at a high heat for a few minutes until it is starting to reduce.
- Serve the beef on top of the boiled rice. Pour over a spoon of the sauce from the pan and sprinkle over the sliced spring onion and sesame seeds. Serve the Korean Stir-Fried Beef Bulgogi immediately.