Traditional Korean bbq beef – Bulgogi


The other night I felt like firing up the bbq. There had been a storm warning for our area, but the sky looked fine.

Feeling unenthusiastic about sausages, buger or steaks, I thought this famous Korean dish was much more representative of where my tastebuds were heading.  This is a very flavourful dish, lean and the kids love it, which is always a bonus.

There are a number of recipes on the net and of course they are all different.  I am sure I made this a few years ago and that recipe did not contain any fruit.  Since there were way too many version to choose from, I figured go to the most authentic Korean type person I can find.  KitchenWench is it.  I love the way she talks about her mother’s (and grandmother’s cooking) and how it compares to her own style.  It is very similar to what I remember growing up in Germany.  You can find her recipe and how it came about here.  I changed very little, apart from the wording so it doesnt look like outright plagiarism.

I turned on the bbq and while I waited for it to reach the desired heat I organised the side dishes. We had steamed rice, some baby bok choy and kimchi to serve with the beef.  When that was done I proudly carried my bowl of Korean beef out and was met by a torrential downpour.  When did this happen?

So guess who bbq’d in the rain?  That would be me.
Dinner plans quickly changed from outdoor to inside and everyone was happy.

Personally I thought a kilo of meat was too much for three adults and 2 kids, but not a morsel was left.


1kg ridiculously thinly sliced beef – Kitchen Wench suggests sirloin, I used rump
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium brown onion, peeled
1 nashi pear, peeled
1 sweet apple, grated
2/3 cup soy sauce
(Korean ‘kanjang’ would be best, but Japanese tamari is fine or Chinese light soy too if you have nothing else)
2 tbsp sesame oil
approx. 2-4 tbsp caster sugar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste


  • Put the beef in a bowl, squeeze the grated apple over the top and set aside.
  • Grate the onion and pear as fine as possible. I used a microplane to turn it into pulp.
    You could use the belnder but that tends to be a bit too mushy.
  •  Add the soy sauce and crushed garlic to the pear onion mix.
  • Taste for sweetness. Adjust the flavour with as much or as little sugar as you like.  It is meant to be sweet, but not sickly.
  •  Pour the marinade over the top of the meat,  massage it through making sure that every piece of meat is coated.
  • Add the sesame oil, sliced spring onion and cracked pepper and again make sure everything is distributed evenly.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours, ideally overnight.
  • Cook on a bbq plate at high heat.  It doesnt take long at all till you get the dark edges you are looking for so make sure you have your side dishes prepared before you start cooking the meat.
  • If you dont have a bbq plate, don’t use the grill as the little slices will fall between the cracks.
  • You can also use a griddle pan or fry pan at a pinch.
  • Serve with rice and something green.

My Observations

This is one of those dishes where you need to have the thinnest slices possible. If you are lucky enough to have an Asian butcher nearby they will be able to slice the beef for you if you let them know. But if you are like most people you’ll end up doing it yourself.  The easiest way is to half freeze the piece of beef so it is almost solid. Then cut against the grain into 2-3mm thick slices.

Try not to fry up all the juices as the marinade makes a lovely rich sauce to pour over your rice.

Very tasty. Very worthwhile the grated knuckles.

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