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I needed to cook dinner fast, easy and make sure it was divine. It was a weeknight and I was up to my ears busy with work and writing. So, this scrumptious Korean-style Beef Bulgogi was the answer to my hectic schedule.
Beef Bulgogi is popular among Filipinos, perhaps for its sweet-savory flavors and the thin strips makes it an ideal meal to cook and pour over rice, the Asian staple.
There used to be a large food hall in the Makati area in the Philippines back in the day when I was still in school. My parents brought us there often because of the variety of cuisine we could choose from. I always settled for the Korean grilled beef or chicken being cooked in a corner food stall. I can’t forget how the beef cooked in minutes and then it was poured on a mound of rice, with a side of stir-fried bean sprouts which I washed down with a fruit juice, my preferred beverage back then.
Fast forward to present day in my American kitchen… I took an inventory of what I had in my freezer and saw the slim beef strips I previously purchased to make for a hot pot soupy meal. But it was scorching outdoors on this day and we were in the middle of a summer heat wave. My family was not keen on soup today.
Korean Beef Bulgogi has origins that date back to the Pyongyang region and later on immigrants brought it to Seoul, South Korea. In Korean “bulgogi” means fire and the word “gogi” means meat in Korean. Dictionaries define bulgogi as traditional Korean beef or pork cooked by char-grilling.
Over the years, the meaning and the way bulgogi is cooked has evolved in different versions. A common sauce base is usually soy sauce, garlic, ginger, honey or brown sugar, onions and scallions. What perhaps makes bulgogi so popular, whether at restaurants or homemade, is that the sweet-savory dish is easy to prepare, with minimal amount of fuss.
One cannot resist the sight and aroma of these very slim, nearly sliver-like beef slices, slightly scorched from grilling at the tips with a mildly salty, somewhat sweet sauce as it is all poured on a mound of steaming, piping-hot rice. At the end of cooking, the results are spectacular and simply another amazing weeknight meal to add to my list of favorite dishes to cook.
Korean-style Beef Bulgogi
- 1 pound beef sirloin sliced very thin, 2-inch strips
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger minced fresh ginger
- 1 whole onion sliced
- 1/2 cup thin sliced strips of carrots 2-inches long
- 1/2 cup thick soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 stalks scallions chopped, leave greens for garnish
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon xiao xing rice wine
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- boiled rice for serving
- Place the thinly-sliced beef strips in a large bowl. Pour over the marinade ingredients: soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, onions, ginger, sesame oil, rice wine, brown sugar, salt and black pepper. Add the sliced onions, scallions and carrots. Mix well and cover. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Using a grill pan or a skillet, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. When oil is hot enough add the marinated beef strips, the rest of the ingredients and its sauce.
- Pan fry over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes till beef is cooked. Remove the cooked beef strips from the pan and plate on a large platter. Continue cooking the sauce for about 5 minutes more over medium heat so the liquid reduces to a thick sauce. Pour this over the cooked beef.
- Garnish with additional scallions and sliced carrots. Serve warm with boiled rice.
- COOK'S COMMENTS: When I purchase beef for this dish, I sometimes go for the pre-sliced beef cuts which are uniform in size and thinness. These are the same beef slices used for sukiyaki or a hot pot meal.
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