Bulgogi Recipe – Fire Meat is a Man-Catcher

bulgogi/bulgogee - korean marinated and barbecued ribeye
They say that the way to man’s heart is through his stomach.


They, whoever “they” are, have clearly never taken an anatomy class because there is no connection between the stomach and heart whatsoever. None. I should know. I set the curve in IB 131 – General Human Anatomy (that’s “IB” for “Integrative Biology” and not just plain Biology because that’s how painfully-politically-correct Berkeley Liberace-als roll). In fact, I didn’t set the curve, kittenz, I smashed it. I stomped the little lovebump of the bell curve all the way down to the y-axis so that the only pure perfection on the distribution was bio-brilliant little moi. I may have been rejected from every medical school to which I applied, but I know that the stomach is not connected to the heart. They are wrong. They probably went to that “Junior” college in Palo Alto.

Hm. *blink blink*

Did I miss something here?

Yes. Yes, I did. Stanfurd gets my panties in a bunch like you wouldn’t believe.

The point is that food is to men what jewelry is to women. However, just like it’s not just any sparkling cz on a stainless steel wire; it’s not just any bowl of Cheerios with a splash of non-fat soy milk. I am not sure why, but there are two things, especially when they are combined, that get men whipped into a hotter frenzy than a sale on purple dinosaurs in the Barker Hangar does for women.



Okay, so fire and meat could get women pretty hot, too, but this is not that kind of blog (yet) (er, usually) (ok fine, today).

Fire and meat together are like a screeching sirens’s love song that rips through every man’s flat-front Dockers and periwinkle pique polo, beckons the caveman that’s been domesticated under thousands of years of Schick Quattro and quiche, and releases the inner primordial pyromaniac. Must hunt meat. Must set on fire. Must eat meat. Never before was the powerful effect of fire and meat over men more neanderthalically obvious than at a Dude Party. Watching football. Drinking beer. Shooting (tequila). Circling around the grill outside in their loincloths made of cheetah pelts during the commercials. I don’t think there was a vegetable within a reasonable punting distance of the place. Except, of course, potato chips. Potatoes are vegetables.

Bulgogi is a Korean girl’s siren’s song. Bulgogi is beef. Bulgogi is grilled over a flame.

Bulgogi literally translates to Engrish as “fire meat.”

I made bulgogi.

But he didn’t ask me to marry him.

“They” were wrong.

bulgogi, korean marinated and grilled beef

Bulgogi Recipe (Korean marinated, grilled rib-eye)

Have the butcher make paper-thin cross-cut slices of ribeye; or partially freeze it and slice it yourself; or go to a Korean grocery store, where they sell “bulgogi meat” already sliced.

Toss 2 lbs. of beef with 2 T. each of sugar and rice vinegar and set aside while you make the marinade.

In a small bowl, combine 6 T. soy sauce, 2 T sugar, 2 T rice wine, 1-2 super finely minced garlic cloves, ½ t. super finely minced fresh ginger, 1 finely chopped green onion (including white parts), 1 T. sesame oil, a dash of pepper and 2-3 T. water.

Pour the seasoning marinade over sliced meat and 1 regular onion sliced into medium-thickness rings. Let the beef and onions marinate for at least 1 hour. Overnight in the refrigerator is even better.

Grill marinated bulgogi over medium high flame until brown on both sides, or put in single layer under broiler until brown. The onions will char and wilt and caramelize into fucking fantastic-ness.

Korean people serve bulgogi with steamed white rice and an array of bahn-chan (all the marinated, fermented, and otherwise fabulously flavorful small side dishes like kimchee) as a meal. However, I also know of people who have stuffed bulgogi between the halves of a French roll in a deliciously obscene fusion of East and West.

** this post originally published on 12.11.2006 **

** a year ago today, i slept in his bed first, then had dinner at la terza **

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 S.Lee January 7, 2007 at 10:39 am

You should let us know some hipness place to have a nice Bulgogi.


2 Malik June 14, 2011 at 9:29 pm
3 Neil January 7, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Maybe as a woman, you don’t understand male anatomy, such as the stomach-heart thing.


4 JF January 7, 2007 at 9:32 pm

my heart is made of bulgogi…and kalbi.

Happy New Year Sarah! Hope all is well in the land of delicious.


5 Cuong January 8, 2007 at 11:02 pm

I am sure that you are the anatomy queen because of the class you took at Berkeley (having come from UC Irvine, I will readily admit that my physiology class was not at the same level). However, do understand how our digestive system works –

we eat food
nutrients get separated out in the stomach
good nutrients then flow into the bloodstream
the blood goes to the heart

And thus, the way into my heart IS through my stomach.

Happy New Year Sarah! I am new to chowhounding and stumbled on your site. Great work, and looking forward to hearing more about delicious eats in the OC.



6 Anonymous January 23, 2009 at 2:53 am

You might have smashed the curve in your Integrative Biology Class in Human Anatomy but I bet you were pitchforked by it in your math classes.

If a bell curve was laid out on an X-Y coordinate, if you smashed the curve down to the Y-Axis you would have a straight line going north and south along the Y-Axis.

That’s because a standard bell curve would lie on it’s long side along the X-Axis which is the horizontal axis.

I think that’s what you were trying to refer to. I also take it you didn’t take statistics, because I have no idea what you mean by smashing a bell curve. (I take it flat)

Because if you’re the best student in the class, I take it, you would be the outlier on the right side of the curve, opposite to the worst student who is an outlier on the left side of the curve. The hump in the middle is supposed to represent the average.

I just wanted to refute what you said because you said in your about me section that your favorite part of your body is your brain, your big brain in fact.

By the way, you remind me of these Asian sensation raucous twats that seem to be so prevalent these days, especially on the internet.

You know the ones that are a walking billboard for the Meredith Brooks song “i’m a bitch, I’m a lover, blah blah” and take pride in the fact that they are biatches.

Did you have a confusing, emotionally stunted, or otherwise frustrating relationship with your Korean patriarch stern father, and therefore declared to live out the rest of your life in the opposite manner in a form of subconscious protest?

Do you date only white males and will cross the street to get to the other side if another Asian male is seen walking down the street in your direction three blocks away on the same side of the street?

Just curious…

Sanjay Kumar aka Graham Wellington aka Juan Hernandez aka Tyrone Washington aka Hung Lo


7 sarah j. gim January 23, 2009 at 3:06 am

sanjay kumar…

is it only competence in mathematics that makes one intelligent? hope not, since i have never performed well in any class or task, on any test, that required math (which i did very well to make clear to you it seems?) and in fact, did fail statistics TWICE and decided not to even try to pass a third time.

as for the rest of your comments/questions, the replies to all of them are exactly right here – this blog.

incidentally, why so aggressive? why so bitter? a smart asian girl break your heart? maybe you should start a blog, too :)


8 Troy January 23, 2009 at 6:27 am

You say putting bulgogi between a French roll is a fusion of East and West… Couldn’t this be taken as a Korean version of a Bahn mi?

I’m not sure I could think of Bahn mi as a “fusion dish” really… Then again, I’m just a white boy from Alabama…

Either way, this sounds delicious and I’m going to make it myself before the weekend is over. (I may even stick it between a French roll.)


9 sarah j. gim January 23, 2009 at 7:05 pm

troy: Korean banh mi! yes! although when i was Cal, there was a cafe called Espresso Experience (on Bacnroft, for anyone who cares) that just called it a “Bulgogi Sandwich.” the cafe is still there, still serving it (verified as of my last trip to the bay area, november 2008)

and if you do make it, please come back and let us all know how it turned out :)


10 Amy January 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm

What do you have against Stanford, Sarah?? I was a little shocked by the bitterness (and lack of humility) in your words.


11 Amy January 23, 2009 at 10:22 pm

What do you have against Stanford, Sarah?? I was a little shocked by the bitterness (and lack of humility) in your words.


12 sarah j. gim January 23, 2009 at 10:24 pm

o, i’m just bitter. stanford rejected me three times :D


13 Anna January 23, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I have to say that I absolutely love your blog!! I’m currently a student at UCLA, so it’s a lot of fun to read your blog and be like, “HEY! I just went to Tahoe last night!” So thanks for repping the area, and I’m looking forward to more!


14 Anonymous January 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Oh Sarah,
Never apologize for Stanford-hate, the place just ain’t right.
Give me a Top Dog, a slice of Blondies and some pepto bismol
anyday…Plus the Cal girls are whole
‘nother matter…
I recently had some home-made Bulgogi which had been marinated with some Dr. Pepper along with
the more classic ingredients.
Gotta admit that little filly had it down to a science. sweet!
thanks Sarah!


15 Anonymous January 24, 2009 at 6:07 am

Personally, I love the beef to bits. Your recipe (which looks delicious) is something I must try.


16 Jean January 25, 2009 at 5:29 am

Jeez, some of these comments creep me out a little. I think Sanjay Kumar needs a hug, or a nap, or maybe some yummy food to soothe all that belligerent aggression.


17 u January 26, 2009 at 12:24 am

If a girl made me bulgogi, I’d marry her for sure. Le sigh, as Pepe used to say.


18 condiment January 26, 2009 at 7:39 am

In Seoul, the McDonaldses serve Bulgogi Burgers.


19 Kevin January 27, 2009 at 2:34 am

That Bulgogi looks tasty!


20 Troy February 6, 2009 at 5:51 am

OK, I know it’s been a few weeks, but I (and my best friend, who happens to be a culinary student) made bulgogi for our Super Bowl party.

He was in charge of the overnight marinating, I was in charge of the “meat in a wok” part. As it turns out, his mother (a Polish, Chicago-born Alabama transplant) had an ancient recipe which closely followed yours. The only difference being we used bottom round instead of rib-eye (he’s a poor college kid, after all), but since he knew to slice the meat against the grain, it was melt-in-your-mouth tender anyway.

We served it three ways: simply by itself; on sandwiches (with cilantro, carrot, and jalapeno “banh mi” style); and he even deep fried some stuffed in won-ton wrappers to make what he called “Yakimandu”.

It was delicious, and the second most popular Super Bowl party dish (the first being fresh guacamole with crumbled bacon, mmm bacon).

I’ve already added this to my “create regularly” recipe folder and I can’t wait to make it again soon.


21 sarah j. gim February 6, 2009 at 6:01 am

troy: i love that you made bulgogi sandwiches but next time, make it less banh mi-ish and more korean-american bulgogi sandwich-ish! no cilantro, but add maybe some chopped red leaf lettuce and kimchi “lite?” (kimchi that is not as fermented, and with far less of the red pepper?)

of course, the yakimandu sounds the best – wrapped up in wontons skins and deep fried? amen, honey.


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