Reinventing Tradition: Irresistible Beef Bulgogi Bowls

Recently, there has been an explosion of “bowl” recipes taking the culinary scene by storm. Whether it’s nourishing salad bowls, flavorful rice bowls, or protein-rich quinoa bowls, the possibilities are endless as long as the ingredients are thoughtfully arranged in a bowl. And among these delightful creations, beef bulgogi bowls stand out as a satisfying and delectable option.

With this trend in mind, I’ve curated these enticing beef bulgogi bowls, crowned with succulent pieces of bulgogi or “steak,” and a variety of tasty Korean accompaniments. The resulting dish is something a bit less intricate than bibimbap and somewhat less traditional than the typical bulgogi wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Dive into a bowlful of fluffy white rice, flavorful bulgogi slices, with the added kick of kimchi, peppers, raw garlic, and the irresistible ssamjang sauce, and it will disappear quicker than you can utter the word “bulgogi.”

Beef Bulgogi Bowls: Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of tender cut beef (like tenderloin or top sirloin. For a more authentic flavor, use “beef for bulgogi” from a Korean grocery store.)
  • 1/2 of a large Korean pear (a small Chinese pear or regular pear can also be used)
  • 1/2 of a small onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • A 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 2½ tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped (divided)
  • 1/2 of a carrot, thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons of a high smoke point oil of your preference
  • 5 cups of steamed medium grain rice (for serving)
  • 1/2 cup of Kimchi (for serving)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 Shishito peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of Ssamjang paste (or as per your taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Thinly slice the beef and place it in a mixing bowl. Prepare the marinade by combining the pear, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, and sesame oil in a blender or food processor until you achieve a smooth purée. Pour this marinade over the beef, add half of your chopped scallions and all the sliced carrots to it. Mix well and allow it to marinate for at least an hour, but overnight is ideal.
  2. After marinating, heat a cast-iron skillet on high heat. The beef should be cooked in about 3 batches, using 2 tablespoons of oil for each batch.
  3. Once the skillet is searing hot, place the beef pieces in a single layer to cover the pan. Let it fry until it turns crispy and caramelized, then flip and let it fry again. Each batch should take about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the cooked beef to a plate. You might have to scrape the pan between batches as the marinade might cause crusts on the pan. Ensure you reheat the pan between batches!
  4. After cooking all the bulgogi, start assembling the bowls. Add a generous serving of rice to each bowl (this recipe serves 4-6 people). Top it with bulgogi, kimchi, garlic, Shishito peppers, and the remaining chopped scallions. Serve with extra kimchi on the side and ssamjang paste according to taste (just spread a bit of this on the beef as you eat it). Optional: Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top. Relish this delightful bowl!

The term “Bulgogi” literally means “fire meat” in Korean, and it is a popular dish that dates back to the Goguryeo era (37 B.C. to 668 A.D.). The sweet and savory marinade in Bulgogi, which traditionally includes soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and pear, helps tenderize the meat and adds depth to the flavors.

Furthermore, the utilization of a cast iron skillet in this recipe can significantly elevate the flavors of the beef as it allows the beef to achieve a nice, crisp char. If you don’t have one, it might be a worthwhile investment, not only for this dish but for many other recipes as well.

So, happy cooking, and enjoy your homemade, delectable Korean Bulgogi Bowl!

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