Basic Bulgogi Barbecue Recipe

The word “bulgogi” literally translates to “fire meat,” which is the perfect description of this warm, spicy, popular Korean dish.

| Fall 2019

Photo by Allison Sarkesian 

Korean barbecue tends to be sweet-savory, with plenty of garlic, ginger, and sesame flavors. Many cooks stick to minimal spiciness in this marinade, but in college, my friends and I tended to load up our curries and stir-fries with pepper in whatever form was most appropriate, and I’ve never lost the habit. This recipe is based on those delicious shoestring-budget results.

If you have a Korean grocery near you, you can buy pre-sliced bulgogi beef; otherwise, freeze the meat for an hour or two, and then use a very sharp knife to cut it into 1/8-inch slices.

Yield: 6 servings


  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang: find a gochujang recipe here for see page 34 of the Fall 2019 issue of Fermentation
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 pounds tender beef, such as rib-eye or sirloin, thinly sliced
  • Vegetable oil, optional
  • 3 cups rice, cooked
  • Bunch green onions, chopped
  • Sesame seeds

Photo from Adobe Stock/Minhyoung


  1. Mix soy sauce, gochujang, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl. Add beef, and massage until pieces are thoroughly coated with marinade. Let rest for at least 30 minutes, but no more than overnight. The thin beef slices won’t need much time to soak up the flavors.
  2. Place a cast-iron skillet on high heat. If it isn’t well-seasoned, add a thin coating of vegetable oil to the pan. When it’s hot, add the beef in a single layer (you’ll need to work in batches) and cook until well-done, flipping once, about 3 minutes per side. The pieces should be slightly caramelized on their surfaces.
  3. Serve over rice, and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

More Korean cuisine recipes on Fermentation!




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