Mom’s Bulgogi with Cucumber Kimchi Salad

June 25, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

From Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Table cookbook: "Mom’s bulgogi, though, is more of an American-Korean hybrid, much sweeter than traditional bulgogi, and she serves it on a bed of white rice. Mom has us over once a month and this is what she always makes. It’s my kids’ very favorite food in the world, so I knew I had to include it in this book.... We’ve never had Mom’s bulgogi with anything other than her cucumber kimchi salad, which has a clean, fresh flavor that perfectly complements the sweet barbecued beef."

From Magnolia Table, by Joanna Gaines. Copyright © 2018 by Joanna Gaines. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Want to hear more about Korean-American food? On our new podcast Counterjam—a show that explores culture through food and music—host Peter J. Kim talks instant ramyeun hacks, kimchi-jjigae, cheonggukjang, and more with chef Roy Choi and comedian Margaret Cho—check out the episode here. Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: The Sweet Korean Bulgogi Joanna Gaines Grew Up Loving —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Bulgogi
  • 3 cups packed light brown sugar (if your tastes run less sweet, start with half and adjust up/down according to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons sparkling dessert wine, such as Banfi Rosa Regale, or sparkling grape juice
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 green onions (light and dark green parts), chopped, plus 1/4 cup sliced for serving
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 pounds beef tenderloin, rib-eye, top sirloin, or sirloin steak, thinly sliced (see Note)
  • Cucumber Kimchi Salad
  • 2 English cucumbers, peeled if desired, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 green onions (light and dark green parts), thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes; see Tip)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
  • For Serving
  • Steamed white rice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion (light and dark green parts) as needed, for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish
  1. Marinate the bulgogi: In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, and pepper until well combined. Add the beef and coat it completely in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.
  2. To make the cucumber kimchi salad: In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, green onions, garlic, gochugaru, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and salt to taste and stir gently. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Prepare a hot grill. If the pieces of beef are so small that they may fall through the grates, use a grilling skillet or place a sheet of foil on the grill.
  4. Grill the beef on both sides until medium-well, 3 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Don’t crowd the skillet or foil, so do this in batches if necessary. As you finish each batch, transfer it to a serving platter and continue with the remaining beef.
  5. Serve the bulgogi on top of steamed rice. Garnish with green onion and toasted sesame seeds and spoon the cucumber kimchi salad alongside.
  6. Store the leftover bulgogi and cucumber kimchi salad in separate covered containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  7. NOTE: My mom usually has the butcher slice the beef for this dish when she buys it. If you live near a Korean market, they often sell packages of sliced rib-eye or top sirloin; sometimes they’re even marked specifically for bulgogi. If you buy big pieces to cut yourself, freeze the meat for about 30 minutes before cutting so that it’s easier to slice thinly and cut against the grain.
  8. TIP: Gochugaru, or Korean red pepper, is commonly used in kimchi. It adds precisely the right amount of heat and unique flavor to the cucumber salad. Authentic Korean brands are readily available at Asian grocery stores or online, and the McCormick spice company packages it as well.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cailey
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    Marcia Stevens

4 Reviews

Cailey November 16, 2021
This meal was so comforting and filling! And it was a hit across the board (definitely toddler friendly). I made a few tweaks to fit what I had in the pantry and it still turned out delicious (I nixed the sparkling wine/juice and swapped sesame seeds for sesame oil, pan seared the meat on the stovetop and added steamed broccoli and onion to the pan at the end, then served with steamed rice; I didn't include the cucumber salad.) This meal will be added to our weekly rotation!
g June 25, 2021
I served this salad to the Fam and they loved it! Now it’s always in the fridge!!!
learnhowtocook June 10, 2019
I didn’t make meat, only salad. So delicious and easy to make!
Marcia S. May 12, 2018
Sounds wonderful and delicious. I will plan to make that soon!