Bulgogi Sauce has a sweet and savory flavor profile with hints of pear, ginger, and garlic. It is a common ingredient in Korean BBQ Beef.
This simple recipe is made from scratch and adds wonderful flavors to grilled beef.
It can also be used in marinades, dipping sauces, burgers, stir-fry chicken or pork, and dishes served with rice or noodles.
You could, of course, buy bottled bulgogi sauce or Korean BBQ sauce online or in a supermarket.
Making it from scratch, on the other hand, ensures that you’re using the freshest ingredients, with no preservatives or additives.
There’s no need to buy a large bottle of sauce if you’re only going to make Korean BBQ Beef once. Making your own is quick and simple.
WHAT IS BULGOGI SAUCE?
Bulgogi sauce is a popular Korean sauce or marinade that is used in a variety of dishes.
Bulgogi, which roughly translates to “fire meat,” is a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce as its base.
Along with the sweetness of brown sugar, pear juice adds a fruity undertone to the sauce. This sauce is made even more complex by the addition of garlic and ginger.
Though bulgogi is a versatile ingredient, it is most commonly and traditionally used to prepare Korean BBQ Beef.
HOW IS THE SAUCE TYPICALLY USED?
Bulgogi is commonly served with beef, which is made from thin slices of sirloin. Before cooking, the meat is marinated in the sauce to enhance its flavor and tenderness.
BULGOGI SAUCE INGREDIENTS
- Soy Sauce: The main ingredient in bulgogi sauce is soy sauce. If you prefer, use low-sodium soy sauce. This is my preferred brand.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds a pleasant sweetness to the dish. White granulated sugar can also be used.
- Bulgogi is traditionally made with Korean pears; however, if you can’t find any, you can substitute pear juice, apple juice, or pineapple juice to add a fruity sweetness to your sauce.
- Grated Ginger: For the best results, use freshly grated ginger.
- Minced Garlic: For the best results, use freshly minced garlic.
- Sesame Oil: It gives the dish an authentic nutty flavor.
- Toasted Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds are used in the preparation of authentic bulgogi. These are widely available online or in the spice section of your local supermarket.
- Green Onions: You can also use chives, which taste and look similar to green onions.
BULGOGI SAUCE OR MARINADE
Bulgogi has a sweet and savory flavor profile, with notes of pear or apple, ginger, and garlic. I use applesauce in my version, but the flavor is still fruity and fresh.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t just include this Korean BBQ sauce recipe in the upcoming bulgogi beef post, it’s because I could have.
But, to be honest, it’s great for so much more than a Korean barbecue marinade or dipping sauce.
I believe you’ll want to keep this recipe on hand for future use, so it’s deserving of its own post.
First, I’ll go over the ingredients you’ll need to make your own bulgogi sauce. Because my recipe uses simple pantry ingredients, you may already have everything.
In less than 5 minutes, you can make a batch of fresh-tasting condiment that rivals any store-bought brand. I’ll also give you some ideas for other ways to use it as a sauce or marinade.
HOW TO MAKE BULGOGI SAUCE
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, pear juice, ginger, and garlic.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Turn off the heat. Combine sesame oil, sesame seeds, and green onion in a mixing bowl.
- Allow the sauce to cool. It can be used as a marinade, dipping sauce, or to stir-fry bulgogi beef.
WHAT DOES BULGOGI SAUCE TASTE LIKE?
Bulgogi sauce is a delectable combination of complex flavors. There is a tasty umami flavor with soy sauce as the main ingredient.
Because of the fruit juice and brown sugar, this sauce has a nice sweet flavor.
WAYS TO USE KOREAN BULGOGI SAUCE
BULGOGI DIPPING SAUCE
- Bulgogi is a tasty dipping sauce for any type of meat. Prepare strips of beef with dipping sauce on the side for a traditional Korean dish.
- This sauce can also be used to marinate meat, particularly beef. Cut your beef into strips and soak it in the sauce for several hours before cooking. The beef becomes tender and flavorful.
HOW LONG DOES HOMEMADE BULGOGI BBQ SAUCE LAST?
If you have leftover sauce or want to make extra for storage, allow it to cool before pouring it into a jar with a lid. Refrigerate this sauce and use it within a week.
HOW TO MAKE KOREAN BULGOGI BEEF?
This sauce can be used to make Bulgogi Beef, which is similar to what you’d find in a Korean restaurant.
- Cut the boneless rib-eye steak into thin strips and marinate them in the Bulgogi sauce for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- 1 tablespoon oil, heated in a cast iron grill pan over medium heat. Cook the beef in a single layer in the pan for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Serve with rice or noodles and garnished with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
HOW TO MAKE BULGOGI SAUCE – THE RECIPE METHOD
- The Bulgogi Sauce should be whisked. In a mixing bowl, combine the following ingredients: soy sauce, gochujang, vinegar, sesame oil, honey or brown sugar, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and optional minced fresh hot pepper.
- Meat should be marinated. Marinate the meat (steak, chicken, or pork strips) for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for maximum flavor development.
- Bulgogi should be cooked. Grill or sauté the steak or meat strips for 5-6 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring or flipping frequently, until done to your liking. I prefer to grill my bulgogi, but it’s also very simple to make inside with a cast iron grill pan.
- Garnish with parsley and serve. Serve with green onions, peppers, and toasted sesame seeds as garnish. Serve and have fun!
HOW TO CONVERT MARINADE INTO KOREAN BBQ SAUCE?
- Make the marinade for the bulgogi. Simply follow the recipe as outlined in the recipe card below.
- Simmer for a few minutes to reduce and thicken. Place the marinade in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Allow it to come to a boil, then reduce to a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until it reduces and thickens to the consistency you prefer for dipping sauce.
WHERE CAN I BUY BULGOGI SAUCE?
Bulgogi sauce or Korean BBQ sauce can be purchased online or in the Asian aisle of many supermarkets if you don’t want to make your own.
BULGOGI SAUCE SUBSTITUTE
Bulgogi sauce is very similar to teriyaki sauce and unagi sauce from Japan. Both can be used in place of Bulgogi sauce.
OTHER USES FOR BULGOGI SAUCE
Because bulgogi can be made with any type of meat, this recipe also works well as a marinade for almost any type of protein!
Bulgogi beef is the most common, but you can use it on chicken, pork, lamb, or anything else you want.
Here are some other ways to put it to use:
- For meatloaf or bulgogi burgers, combine a couple tablespoons of sauce with a pound of ground beef. Alternatively, brush the sauce on top.
- Use in place of traditional stir fry sauce the next time you make Jeyuk Bokkeum, a pork stir fry.
- Prepare a pot of Instant Pot basmati rice and top with some of this Korean BBQ sauce. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is bulgogi sauce the same as Korean BBQ sauce?
Bulgogi sauce (pronounced “Bull-Go-Gi”) is a Korean barbecue meat marinade. It’s a delicious and time-saving pre-made sauce for Korean-inspired items on your menu, with notes of garlic, ginger, and black pepper.
What cut of meat is used for bulgogi?
Korean beef bulgogi is simple to prepare, but as with any recipe that relies heavily on the marinade, you must plan ahead of time. In an ideal world, you’d marinate the steak—rib-eye or sirloin steak are the best cuts for this bulgogi recipe—a day ahead of time. In a pinch, however, two hours will suffice.
Is gochujang the same as bulgogi sauce?
Gochujang is a Korean chili paste that is quickly becoming the new Sriracha. Bulgogi is marinated beef strips that are frequently served in Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish topped with vegetables (and beef too, if you like). It’s also served with gochujang.