Bulgogi, Korean BBQ beef, which translates from Korean to “fire meat” is thinly sliced, almost shaved pieces of beef marinated in a sweet, flavorful, soy-based sauce and cooked until the sauce caramelizes and the meat is cooked through. I use a well-marbled cut of beef like ribeye or sirloin steak, areas of the cow where the muscles aren’t used as much because in these cuts the beef is very tender and stays tender when quickly cooked in a cast iron pan. I add kiwi to the marinade to help tenderize the meat (pear is often used for this purpose as well). I enjoy making this bowl for weeknight meals since the meat cooks so quickly.
I serve the beef over rice with sesame seeds alongside cabbage, sliced cucumber, kimchi, and ribbons of carrots and green onions. While the carrots can simply be sliced, I love the presentation of slicing them into ribbons. I thinly shave the carrots using a mandolin (watch your fingers, it’s sharp) and add them to a bowl of ice-cold water.
Bulgogi Beef and Rice Bowl
For the bulgogi beef:
- 2 pounds well-marbled, boneless ribeye or sirloin steak
- 2 medium kiwis, peeled and quartered
- 5 cloves garlic
- 3 green onions, trimmed
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 inch knob ginger, peeled
- 1 teaspoon gochugaru or red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 cups steamed long-grain white rice
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and shaved
- 1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 cup shaved purple cabbage
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped Napa cabbage kimchi
- 2 medium green onions, thinly sliced
For the bulgogi beef:
Freeze steak for 2 hours to firm it up, this makes for easier cutting. When firm, use a sharp chef’s knife to thinly slice the meat. Add to a large resealable container.
Add the kiwis, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar and ginger gocharu to the bowl of a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the marinade over the sliced meat and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight.
Drain the excess marinade from the meat. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil and heat through. Working in batches, add half the meat to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce caramelizes and the beef cooks through, about 6 minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl and return the pan to heat, continuing with the remaining beef.
Divide rice among 4 serving bowls and top with cooked bulgogi, sesame seeds, carrots, cucumber, cabbage, kimchi and green onions. Serve immediately.
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