Day 261: Bulgogi (Korean Barbecued Beef) and Marinated Cucumber Salad

Except that my bulgogi wasn’t really barbecued; I hope nobody minds. This is something I’ve been meaning to try for years, ever since tasting it at a teeny Korean restaurant; when I saw packages of paper-thinly sliced beef at Arirang Market (beside Community Natural Foods on 10th) I bought one, which landed in the freezer when I didn’t get around to making bulgogi.

Bulgogi is very thinly sliced beef (to do it yourself, freeze the meat first, to make it easier to slice paper-thin) marinated in soy, sugar, sesame oil and garlic, then barbecued (or in my case, quickly stir-fried), then served with rice and spicy little salads and garnish; all I could come up with in less time than it took for the rice to cook was a quick cucumber salad, spiced up with a squirt of red chili paste. Sometimes bulgogi is served with lettuce leaves and garlic and chilies, with instructions to make your own lettuce rolls with the beef.

So my New Wednesday Resolution is to use at least one thing from the freezer every day for the next while, so as to free up some real estate for the impending onslaught of applesauce, cranberry-applesauce and so forth. As it stands, I can’t even make ice. One down, an avalanche of barely identifiable yogurt containers and zip-lock baggies to go.



Recipe link


September 17, 2008

  • Makes: Serves 4.


3/4-1 lb. thinly sliced beef (I used ribeye; apparently sirloin is acceptable as well)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp. white or brown sugar

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

canola or sesame oil, for cooking

1/2 onion, thinly sliced, or 2 green onions, chopped

1 carrot, coarsely grated (optional)


1Put the beef into a zip-lock bag; add the soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds, sesame oil and garlic, seal the bag and squish it around to combine it all well. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, or freeze for up to 6 months.

2Heat up a large skillet and add a drizzle of canola and sesame oil (if you have it). If you are using white or yellow onions and want to cook them a little longer than you will the beef, saute them for a few minutes, until starting to turn golden. Otherwise, add the onion and carrot to the beef in a bowl, and saute the mixture a little at a time, without crowding the pan, just until the beef cooks through (it will be quick). Transfer the cooked beef to a plate or bowl and add extra oil as you need it. When the beef is cooked, serve immediately with steamed rice, pouring any excess liquid that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl overtop.

Makes: Serves 4.

Marinated Cucumber Salad

Recipe link


September 17, 2008

  • Makes: Serves 4-6.


1/2 sweet onion

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1 small carrot, coarsely grated

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbsp. sugar or honey

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 squirt hot chili paste (the stuff in the squeeze bottle)


1Put the onion in a medium bowl, cover it with cold water, add the vinegar and let it sit for 15 minutes (this will mellow out the onion a bit); drain well and add the cucumber and grated carrot.

2In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and chili paste, stir with a fork and pour over the cucumber mixture. Serve right away, or let it marinate for an hour or two.

Makes: Serves 4-6.



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14 comments on “Day 261: Bulgogi (Korean Barbecued Beef) and Marinated Cucumber Salad

  1. Dana
    September 18, 2008 at 8:07 am

    This is one of my hubby’s favourite ways to prepare beef in the Asian style. I’ll have to make this for him soon.

  2. Cheryl
    September 18, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Yum! I have ribs with a dry rib sitting in the fridge – part of my efforts to clean out the freezer. I have a lot of ribs, want to come over?

  3. crockpot lady
    September 18, 2008 at 9:48 am

    ooh. I like the sound of this meat. I made ribs earlier in the year and the memory is making me drool.

  4. Bruce Harrington
    September 18, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Bulgogi is a family favorite. It helps that it isn’t too difficult or expensive. One minor detail I’ve discovered is that everyone likes to describe the meat as cut “paper thin.” I don’t recommend it. If you have a sharp knife and can cut it into extremely thin slices, the marinade takes over the flavor. It becomes sweet, salty and garlicly, but no beef. Cut it a little thicker and you’ll enjoy it more.

  5. Lisa
    September 18, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Can you work on my freezer next? 😉

  6. holly
    September 21, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Yum. I love Bulgogi. Lived in Korea as a child and I even have the little brass grill to cook it on. We always serve it with Pocumpop, a stir fry of rice and mixed vegetables. I love your recipes and I esp loved your resolution to use things from your freezer to free up real estate! I need to do that in the biggest way! Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Linda
    December 8, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Used to have a cast ? (not sure what metal) dome that sat over a burner. Once heated, you placed the beef slices on it and they caramelized beautifully. There were vents to let the excess heat out and a rim to catch extra juices. It was a little messy but not bad.

    Probably purchased it in China Town stores.

  8. Madelyn
    June 6, 2010 at 3:07 am

    looks delicious but…I’m guessing its arirang market, and bulgogi? Arirang is a popular much-loved korean folk song. ^__^
    Looks delic!

  9. Madelyn
    June 6, 2010 at 3:07 am

    looks delicious but…I’m guessing its arirang market, and bulgogi? Arirang is a popular much-loved korean folk song. ^__^
    Looks delish!

  10. JulieVR
    June 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Yes – Arirang! Pardon the typo!

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