This quick and easy Korean marinated pork recipe goes perfectly with a bowl of warm steamed rice. It’s savory, juicy, and super satisfying. In this recipe, I’ll teach you how to make both spicy and non-spicy versions of the dish so everyone in the family can enjoy!
What Is Bulgogi Sauce Made Of?
Bulgogi gets its distinct flavor from a combination of soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, black pepper, Asian pear, and sesame oil. These ingredients impart a complex and delicious balance of salty, sweet, and nutty flavors to the meat. For my recipe, I like to add a tablespoon of cooking wine to deepen the flavors even more.
One of the highlights of traditional Korean bulgogi sauce is the addition of Asian pear. Not only does it add sweetness to the dish, but it also contains enzymes that help tenderize the meat as it marinates. You can use red apple to achieve the same flavor profile, although it won’t be able to tenderize the meat.
I made my recipe during the pandemic so getting to the Asian grocery store was a challenge and I wasn’t able to pick up an Asian pear. But even without the pear, this recipe is still super satisfying and delicious!
How to Make Spicy Bulgogi
Although the word bulgogi in Korean translates to “fire meat”, it doesn’t actually refer to the spiciness of the dish but to the fact that it’s traditionally cooked over open fire. So classic bulgogi doesn’t always have to be spicy. Although I love spicy food, I’m serving this bulgogi to my 5-year old so the recipe below is for my non-spicy version.
Luckily, making your bulgogi spicy can easily be achieved by adding one ingredient: Gochujang paste. Gochujang, also known as Korean red chili pepper paste, can be found in most Asian grocery stores nowadays. Chances are you’ve probably seen its signature red box packaging before. Just add 3-4 tablespoons of Gochujang to your marinade to turn it into spicy bulgogi!
What Cut of Pork to Use for Bulgogi
The best cuts of pork to use for this dish are pork butt and pork shoulder. These both have a good balance of fat and meat that will result in flavorful and tender bulgogi. The fat will also keep the meat from drying out, since we’ll be cooking it on high heat to develop a little char on the outside. If you’re lucky enough to live close to a Korean grocery store, you can also find packages of pre-sliced pork that will make this recipe even faster and easier.
What to Serve with Bulgogi?
One of the most common – and arguably the most delicious – pairings for pork bulgogi is a side of steamed rice. This warm and fluffy rice soaks up the juices from the bulgogi meat and sauce!
Traditionally, this pairing also comes with a few different Korean side dishes known as banchan. These side dishes are usually small servings of vegetables marinated in different sauces. You can also serve it with a side of perilla leaves or fresh lettuce. Try using them as a warp for the bulgogi and rice!
Pork Bulgogi Recipe | Simple and Delicious
- 2 lbs Sliced Pork – I am using pork butt
- 1 large Sweet Onion – roughly chopped
- 2 Green Onions – white part only – chopped
- 2 tbsp Minced Garlic
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1.5 tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1 tbsp Cooking Wine
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- ½ Black Pepper
- Add black pepper, sugar, cooking wine, soy sauce, green and minced garlic into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Then add the marinade and the roughly chopped sweet onions to the sliced pork.
- Let the meat marinate at least for 1 hour. I prefer 2-3 hours if possible.
- Add some cooking oil to a large frying pan and pre-heat.
- Then add the pork and all of its marinade. Cook on medium heat until meat is almost done and the liquid has evaporated. Depending on how much meat you cook, this could take anywhere between 10-15 minutes.
- Once you see all of the liquid evaporated, turn the heat to high so the meat gets a nice char on the outside.
- Optional but highly recommended: Garnish with sesame seeds.
- Serve with steamed rice.