Bulgogi, is one of Korea’s most well-known and loved barbecue dishes, typically featuring thin slices of beef that has marinated for hours and been grilled to perfection. The reason for the long marinate time is to allow of the flavors to be absorbed, creating an extremely flavorful, tender meat so appealing to the senses, you honestly can’t stop eating it.
Considered a “classic” Korean dish, bulgogi is a staple in many Korean households. The dish itself has a long history attached to it with an origin said to trace back to 37 B.C. and the kingdom of Goguryeo, from which the modern name Korea is derived. Many believe bulgogi was originally based on a kabob-like dish called “maekjeok” which later evolved into a broth-based dish called ”seoryanmyeok” before morphing into a thinly-sliced charbroiled dish referred to as “neobiani” that was traditionally served to Korean royalty.
Around the early 1920’s, and the invasion of the Japanese, “neobiani” became known formally as “bulgogi”, a dish that could be served either in broth or grilled. As Koreans immigrated to the U.S. bulgogi came with them along with the famous fermented condiment, kimchi and another well-known favorite dish I love, bibimbap.
My version of bulgogi is made with pork instead of beef and requires a slightly shorter marinate time because of it. Although a grill can be used to make my recipe, I use high heat and a cast iron skillet to help make the edges crispy and irresistible without too much hassle. To make this an “easy meal“, I suggest purchasing the ingredients the day before you wish to make it. Prep everything in the morning and allow the meat to marinate until dinner time. This dish has quickly become a new family favorite in my household any night of the week.
- 1 pound pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into thin 2x1-inch slices
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili paste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bunch green scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
- Step 1 Trim the pork, slice and place in a medium size mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Step 2 In a second small mixing bowl add the soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, brown sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well to blend.
- Step 3 Add the marinate to the sliced pork and toss to coat. Place the pork and marinade in a large ziplock bag and marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Step 4 To finish the bulgogi, place a large cast iron skillet over high heat. When hot, but not smoking, a place a layer of pork in the skillet without overcrowding. Sear the pork until you begin to see nice coloration/caramelization, about 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn the pork over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer the bulgogi to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat the above process with the remaining pork, discarding the remaining marinade.
- Step 5 To serve, place in a large serving bowl (with or without rice), sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.