Beef bulgogi with vegetables, also known as Korean BBQ beef, is one of the most well known Korean dishes made of thinly sliced beef with a super flavorful marinade. This bulgogi can be easily prepared the day before so that you can simply cook and enjoy it the day of!
Beef bulgogi with vegetables is one of Kyong's all-time favorite dishes to make for a crowd. No one can resist! The beef is tender, sweet and savory with caramelized onions and carrots for texture. Sooo good!
This beef bulgogi can be marinated the day before and cooked when you're ready to eat. It's super easy to make for dinner, and a crowd pleaser if you prepare it for a social gathering.
What is beef bulgogi?
Korean beef bulgogi is sometimes known as Korean BBQ beef because bulgogi is normally cooked on grills and tastes like Korean BBQ. The word "bulgogi" literally translates to "fire meat," simply meaning, meat cooked over fire.
Traditionally, beef bulgogi uses marinated, thin cut beef and is cooked in BBQ grills right over the fire to get that nice char flavor. To make it more home kitchen friendly, bulgogi is often stir fried on stovetop griddles or cast iron pans.
Why does this beef bulgogi recipe have such little marinade?
True beef bulgogi should only have just enough marinade. After marinating, there shouldn't be much marinade left. This means that the marinade is properly absorbed by the beef, which ensures good seasoning and proper tenderizing.
Having just enough marinade also means that when you cook the beef bulgogi, you'll get good browning. This will add char flavor to the bulgogi, making it taste more authentic, as if the meat was cooked over fire.
What cut of beef is good for bulgogi?
The most popular cut of beef for bulgogi is definitely thinly sliced ribeye roll. You can usually find that at your local Asian market. Besides ribeye, sirloin, eye round, tenderloin, flank, and skirt steak are great too!
Although, tougher cuts of beef can still make super tasty bulgogi. Do remember to marinate it a little longer so that it's well tenderized.
Slicing your beef by hand
If you can't find thinly sliced beef at your grocery store or Asian market, don't fret! You can always cut it by hand!
To make slicing easier, freeze the beef for about 30 minutes to an hour. This will firm up the beef and help you cut the beef into more even slices.
Once the beef is chilled and has hardened, sliced the beef against the grain, into ⅙ to ¼ inch. Try to keep it closer to ⅙ inch if possible. The thicker the cut, the longer the beef should be marinated to ensure that it's well tenderized and the flavor penetrates.
For the bulgogi marinade:
- Soy sauce - We used light sodium soy sauce but regular is fine too.
- Korean pear - The natural sweetness and tenderizer for our beef bulgogi. Korean/Asian pears are much juicier and kind of resembles apples in flavor, unlike all-purpose pears like Anjou pears.
- Brown sugar - Adds additional sweetness and caramel flavor to the bulgogi. It also helps the beef brown better.
- Ginger and garlic - Aromatics to add flavor to the dish.
- Sesame oil - A classic Korean pantry item used to flavor almost everything, beef bulgogi is no difference.
- Black pepper - To add some mild peppery spice to this Korean BBQ beef.
For the beef and vegetables:
- Thinly cut beef ribeye - This is usually available in the fresh or frozen meat aisle of our local Asian markets. If it's not available, no worries! You can easily cut it by hand.
- Yellow onion - Onion adds so much flavor this beef bulgogi, so we decided to add it to the beef for marinating.
- Carrots and green onion - Mostly to add colors to bulgogi. We find that the vegetables taste better marinated with the beef. This also saves dishes! Win-win!
Korea beef bulgogi is one of those dishes that you may have trouble finding ingredients for. But the good news is that, many of the ingredients can be substituted with no issue!
- Korean pear - If you can't find Korean pears, you can use apples instead. We prefer fuji apples because they're really juicy.
- Granulated sugar can also be used as a substitute if you have neither apples or Korean pears. Use 3 tablespoons of sugar in place of the Korean pear or apple.
- Brown sugar - You can substitute the brown sugar for regular granulated sugar, but brown sugar will definitely give you more flavors.
- Ribeye - If you can't find thinly sliced beef ribeyes you can always use other thinly sliced beef available at your local Asian market. They usually have lots of options for Korean BBQ or hotpot.
For the beef bulgogi marinade:
In a food processor or blender, add the Korean pear, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and black pepper. Blend everything together until pureed.
How to make beef bulgogi with vegetables:
1. Place the thinly sliced beef in a resealable plastic bag along with the sliced onion, carrots, and green onions. Add the bulgogi marinade and mix to evenly distribute.
2. Seal the bag and flatten into an even layer. Let the beef marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Flip the bag half way while marinating.
3. Heat a large nonstick, cast iron pan, or griddle over medium high heat. Pour a small amount oil, just enough to lightly grease the bottom of the pan.
4. Working in batches, sear the marinated beef and vegetables. Try to separate the beef as best as you can and cook in a single layer. Don't overcrowd the pan and avoid overlapping. Repeat with remaining marinated beef.
5. Serve immediately and enjoy while hot!
What to serve with beef bulgogi?
This beef bulgogi with vegetables may be the entree and star dish of the table, but it shines even more with assortments of banchan like kimchi, oui muchim (cucumber salad, eggplant stir fry, etc.
You can also serve bulgogi with white rice, steamed eggs (gyeran jjim), lettuce for to make wraps, and even soju to help wash everything down! It's a dish meant to be shared and enjoyed with a variety of sides.
- Marinate the beef for at least 2 hours. This part is crucial. It'll ensure that the beef absorb maximum flavor and is well tenderized.
- Marinate the veggies with the beef for extra flavor. Not only will this help season the vegetables, it'll also season the beef as well!
- Serve beef bulgogi table-side or on a sizzling platter for extra flare! To give your homemade beef bulgogi feel more restaurant style, you can preheat a sizzle platter in the oven. When the bulgogi is all cooked, transfer it to the hot platter and serve while sizzling!
Beef bulgogi is tastes even better if you let the meat marinate overnight. It'll help the beef get throughly seasoned and well tenderized. So the day before you want to eat bulgogi, toss the thinly sliced beef and vegetables into a resealable bag and let it marinate overnight.
If you want, you can even make the sauce ahead of time and keep it refrigerated up to 1 week.
Storage and Reheating
Cooked beef bulgogi can be stored in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can reheat the bulgogi in the microwave or in a pan over medium heat, until thoroughly hot.
Beef bulgogi is a very flavorful dish that's well balanced between savory and sweet. You'll also get hints of ginger and onion.
Asian pear or Korean pear are the best pears for making bulgogi marinate. They are usually golden brown and have the shape of apples. The flesh is much juicier and crisper than pears like Anjou or Barlette.
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Beef Bulgogi with Vegetables (Korean BBQ Beef)
For the beef bulgogi with vegetables:
- 1½ pounds thinly sliced beef ribeye
- 1 small yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch green onion cut into 1 inch pieces
- Vegetable oil as needed for cooking (any neutral oil will do)
- For the bulgogi marinade:In a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients for the bulgogi marinade and blend until smooth. Set aside until needed.
- To marinate the beef ribeye:Place the thinly sliced beef ribeye in a plastic resealable bag, along with the thinly sliced onion, carrots, and green onions. Pour the bulgogi marinade into the bag and give everything a good mix to distribute the marinade.*It might look like there's not enough marinade, but we promise it's just enough for 1½ pounds of beef!*
- Close the resealable bag and flatten it into an even layer. Let the beef marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, best overnight. Flip the bag half way during marinating.
- Cook the beef bulgogi:Heat a large nonstick pan or cast iron pan/griddle over medium high heat. Add a small amount of oil into the pan, just enough to lightly grease it, about a tablespoon.
- Cooking in batches, add some marinated beef ribeyes and vegetables into the hot pan. Separate the beef as best as you can, into one layer. Give each piece of beef a good sear and flip once to finish cooking, about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Transfer the beef bulgogi to a serving plate and repeat with remaining beef ribeye and vegetables.*Make sure to not overcrowd the pan or the beef will not get good colors.*
- Serve:Serve the beef bulgogi immediately with steamed white rice and ban chan (side dishes). *To add a little flare, heat a sizzle platter in the oven at 350°F while cooking the bulgogi. After all the beef has been cooked, carefully transfer the beef bulgogi onto the sizzle platter and serve!*
- Good beef bulgogi shouldn't be made with a lot of marinade. There should be just enough marinade for the beef to absorb, without much leftover.
- Although the minimum marinating time is 2 hours, we highly recommend marinating overnight for the best flavor.
- If you can't find thinly sliced beef ribeye at your local Asian market, you can cut it by hand! Refer to the post for more detail.
- Beef ribeye is one of the best and most popular cuts of beef for making bulgogi, but you can also use flank, sirloin, tenderloin , and eye round.