This beef bulgogi bowl contains so much flavor, texture, color, and deliciousness. It has tender, juicy, marinated strips of steak, a crunchy sweet and sour carrot ribbon and purple cabbage salad, creamy, fresh avocado, a spicy gochujang yogurt sauce, fluffy brown rice, umami-forward kimchi, and a runny soft boiled egg. A traditional Korean BBQ dish with a healthy, creative spin!
I’m excited to bring you these flavor-packed, comforting, easy-to-make beef bulgogi bowls.
I had beef bulgogi for the first time a few weeks ago while out to dinner with friends. The dish sang to me! It’s a wonderful combination of sweet, salty, and spicy and the meat is crazy tender and delicious. After having it at the restaurant, I knew I wanted to re-create this dish but give it a bit healthier of a spin.
So you may be asking, what is beef bulgogi? Well, other than being fun to say, it’s a traditional, widely popular Korean BBQ dish made from thin, marinated strips of steak grilled on a BBQ or stove-top griddle. Bulgogi actually means “fire meat.”
I took the traditional flavors of beef bulgogi and added it to a healthy, colorful bowl to create a beautiful, nutritious, harmonious meal.
This dish has become a weekly staple at our house because it’s easy to make and just so darn good! We’ve kind of become addicted….and I have a feeling you will too!
Let’s get to cooking!
We will first marinade the steak. Beef bulgogi traditionally uses a ribeye, but I found great success from a flank steak (which is usually a cheaper cut of meat).
One of they keys to achieving super tender beef is cutting the steak into very thin strips and marinading it for as long as possible (I recommend overnight but a minimum of four hours will work too – you want that delicious marinade to penetrate the meat!)
2 tips to cutting the steaks: 1). Freeze the steak for about 5 minutes before cutting. This allows the meat to slightly firm up, which makes it easier to cut. 2). Cut the meat against the grain. The grain is the direction the meat muscles are assigned and you want to cut against them to shorten the muscles, making the meat easier to chew. Here is great tutorial from the Kitchn of how to cut against the grain.
Once the meat is cut, add to a ziplock bag or sealable container.
Next, mix together the marinade ingredients. I used the traditional ingredients of soy, grated pear, gochujang, ginger, and garlic. The grated pear may seem strange but it adds a hint of earthy sweetness and helps tenderize the meat. Gochujang is a sweet and spicy fermented Korean hot sauce that adds heat and depth of the flavor to the sauce. Gochujang is pretty easy to find now-a-days at your local supermarket – or your an buy it here from amazon.
The marinade recipe usually calls for some sort of sugar to add sweetness. To make my version of the dish a bit healthier, I used coconut sugar and honey for my sweeteners. I also toned down the amount of sugar in my marinade as I didn’t want it cloyingly sweet.
The sauce is what makes this dish shine. It’s got all the flavors and kick that I adore about Asian cuisine: sweet, spicy, salty, funky, and sour. It just makes your taste buds dance with delight! Its that good!
Pour the beautiful, rich sauce over the meat and let it marinade in the fridge.
While the meat marinades, you can make the other components of the bowl.
To make the spicy yogurt sauce, simply combine the yogurt, gochujang, honey, lime juice and salt. The yogurt sauces adds a nice creamy, spicy tang to the dish!
Next, in a small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, honey, and salt and add in the carrot ribbons and thinly sliced purple cabbage and toss till well-combined. The carrot ribbon salads adds a burst of acidity and freshness to help cut through the richness of the meat.
Once the steak is marinated, you can take it out of the fridge and prepare to cook it. Traditionally, beef bulgogi is cooked on a hot grill, but more modern interpretations tend to pan-fry the dish. I went with the pan-fry version, but you could use a hot griddle as well.
Add a teaspoon of sesame oil to a wok or large frying pan and allow the pan to get screaming hot (this allows the meat to really char and caramelize). Add the pieces of beef and cook for about 1-2 minutes a side. Since it is cut so thin, the meat cooks quickly. Also, do not overcrowd the pan, so you may need to cook the beef in batches to make sure the meat is cooked evenly!
Now we can build our bowls. At the bottom, add a scoop of brown or white rice. Then top with the beef, carrot and cabbage salad, avocado, kimchi, the spicy yogurt sauce, and a soft boiled egg. Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions, and mint (if desired).
Time to eat! My favorite part!
This beef bulgogi bowl is bursting with spice and flavor: crazy tender, sweet and spicy steak, the fresh, crunchy, slightly pickled carrot and purple cabbage salad, creamy, cool avocado, the spicy, tangy gochujang yogurt sauce, fluffy brown rice, umami-forward kimchi, and a runny soft boiled egg.
Get ready to be addicted!
Beef Bulgogi Bowls
A traditional Korean BBQ dish with a healthy, creative spin!
- 1 pound flank steak ribeye or skirt steak works too
- 4 tablespoons soy
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 3-4 teaspoons gojuchang
- 1 tablespoon grated asian pear
Carrot cabbage salad
- 1 cup carrot ribbons
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- Dash of salt
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2-3 teaspoons gojuchang
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 sliced avocado
- 1 tablespoon diced green onion
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup kimchi
- 1 cup brown rice
For the marinade, combine all of the ingredients and still until well-combined. Add more or less gochujang depending on desired spice level.
Cut steak into thin strips against the grain (easiest to cut if freeze meat for 5 minutes before cutting)
In a large ziplock bag, combine the marinade and steak strips, making sure the marinade covers the meat. Marinade over night (or at least 4 hours).
To cook the steak, heat 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a large skillet or wok. Once the pan is very hot, add the meat and cook for 1-2 minutes per side. The meat will cook quickly since it is cut so thin. Cook the meat in batches so you do not overcrowd the pan, which allows the meat to cook evenly and get a nice char.
For the salad, combine the honey, salt, and rice wine vinegar together in a small bowl. Add the veggies and toss until fully dressed.
Combine all of the gochujang yogurt sauce ingredients and mix well. Add more or less gochujang depending on desired spice level.
For each bowl, add a scoop of rice and top with cooked steak, carrot and cabbage salad, avocado slices, a soft boiled egg, Kimchi, and a dollop of the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion slices.
Serve and enjoy!
For more bowl dish inspiration, check out my magic steak bowls!