My love for Korean bbq started back in college. (Many years ago, but who’s counting) It’s been a staple forever. Gogi-gui is the Korean term for bbq meat. Most popular is bulgogi, usually made from thinly sliced marinated beef sirloin or tenderloin.
Its local popularity seems to have escalated in the past few years with social media setting trends and the growing abundance of food trucks and street food. Who doesn’t enjoy steaming hot bowl of rice with sweet and spicy toppings. Like many, I ordered these dishes in restaurants thinking they were far too complicated to make at home. Not true!
Korean barbecue beef is one of the easiest things to whip together. Traditionally, it’s made of thinly slice beef, either ribeye cut against the grain or tenderloin but it can also be made with cheaper cuts of meat like skirt steak or sirloin and simply marinated for a longer amount of time. Sometimes we buy a full tenderloin and when we trim them we cut off the ends because they are not the same thickness as the center portion. This is a perfect recipe to use up those pieces. With tenderloin being a more pricey cut of meat it means nothing goes to waste
Make this for your family and your kids will sing your praises, I promise. I love kimchi which is a spicy fermented cabbage. I think it mixes wonderfully with that sweet, savory, barbecue and hot steamy rice but my kids aren’t terribly keen about it. This is the beauty of rice bowls. You make the ingredients and let everyone assemble their own.
Our rice maker works overtime in our house. It’s so easy to dump the rice and water in, press start and end up with perfect rice every time. If you’re still making rice in a pot on the stove I can’t urge you strongly enough to treat yourself to a rice maker.
This dish is marinated with a mixture made of pears, garlic and ginger. Nothing smells as fresh and wonderful in my kitchen as freshly grated ginger. Pears are common in Korean marinades because they contain enzymes that tenderize meat. They also do not discolor the protein like some other acid based marinades do. As a bonus it lends a delicious sweetness.
When preparing your meat for this dish, I prefer freezing the meat then thawing it in the fridge so when you’re ready for it, the meat is cold and still slightly firm but not frozen solid. This makes the meat easier to slice into thin pieces.
I’m sometimes asked how I make my eggs. The eggs pictured here are 6 minute eggs (5 minutes if your eggs are already room temperature.) Bring a pot of water to a boil. Gently add in your eggs. Set a timer for 6 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off remove the eggs from the heat, drain the hot water and run under cool water to stop the cooking process. Peel gently under running water. I just find eggs easier to peel either under running water or fully submerged in water. Cut over your bowl so you dont lose any of that delicious yolk. The egg in this dish adds texture as well as a richness that pairs well with the spices kimchi and sweet savory bbq.
Korean Bulgogi BBQ Steak and Rice Bowls
for the steak:
- 2 lbs. rib eye steak or tenderloin
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1/4 of a red onion
- 1 3-inch piece ginger
- 2 Asian or Bosc pears
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbs Agave
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
for the rice bowls:
measures are based on your preference.
- Prepared Korean bbq meat
- 6 minute soft-cooked eggs ( poached or fried works too)
- sesame seeds
- Yum Yum Sauce
- MEAT PREP: Cut the steak into very thin bite-sized pieces and place in a mixing bowl. I find freezing the meat then thawing it in the fridge so when you’re ready for it the meat is cold and still slightly firm but not frozen solid. This makes the meat easier to slice into thin pieces. Slice your red onion thin and toss it in with the meat.
- Peel the garlic, ginger, and pears. Pulse in a food processor until the consistency of applesauce. Add the pear mixture to the meat and stir to combine.
- Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Pour over meat to cover. Toss the meat with the marinade being sure all the meat is covered by the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.
- MEAT COOKING: Heat a large heavy-duty skillet over very high heat. Discard remaining marinade and add the steak to the pan. Sear for a few minutes, turning it once or twice, until your meat has a really nice golden brown exterior. This cooks quickly. Just a few minutes at high heat should give you nicely caramelized edges. Set aside.
- BOWL ASSEMBLY: Arrange the rice, kimchi, and steak in a bowl. Add the egg on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds, scallions, and Yum Yum Sauce.
In this recipe you’ll see it calls for Yum Yum sauce. You can purchase Yum Yum sauce ready made in the Asian section at Heinen‘s but if you, like me, prefer to make things from scratch, especially things that are so simple, here’s the recipe for the simple sauce.
To make your own Yum Yum sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2-3 cloves crushed fresh garlic (we love garlic!)
- 2Tbs Franks hot sauce or for a milder version use tomato paste instead of hot sauce.
- 1 teaspoon agave
- 1 teaspoon paprika
salt to taste
This bowl assembly is inspired by a recipe by Pinch of Yum that I came across years ago. I’ve been making it and giving it my own twist ever since. You can add vegetables like thinly sliced carrots, snap peas, cucumbers, basil, avocado (is there anything we can’t add avocado to?)
Try Heinen’s Thai peanut sauce instead of yum yum sauce. It’s a delicious option.
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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Heinen’s Grocery is located at 500 N. Hough Street, between E. Main Street and Route 14 (next to Meatheads) in Barrington, Illinois. They’re open 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit Heinens.com.