Korean Marinated Beef (Bulgogi)
Why This Recipe Works
For bulgogi at home we first had to pick the best cut of beef. Rib-eye steak offered a nice combination of marbled interior and rich beef flavor. To shave the meat superthin, we froze it in pieces so it firmed up enough to cleanly slice into bite-size pieces. Treating the meat with baking soda helped it stay tender, and because the meat was so thin, we found that there was no need to coat it with a marinade until just before cooking. For our version, we balanced the marinade's signature sweet flavor with soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, pepper, and chopped onion, which brought savory undertones and diluted the marinade so the beef wasn't too intensely flavored. We cooked the beef in a moderately hot skillet before stirring it until it was fully cooked, which took just a few minutes. A quick, savory, spicy sauce (called ssamjang) and daikon pickles offered flavor and textural contrast to the sweet beef. Lettuce leaves, steamed rice, and other sides made it a complete meal.