Salty-sweet, caramelized bits of ground beef piled high into rice bowls. A quivering fried egg that spills into golden splendor when you break it with a spoon. Bulgogi Bowls — the best kind of 15-minute dinner.
When I was little, bulgogi was special. Cooked over glowing red charcoals and/or a special grill pan that weighed a ton, bulgogi wasn’t for everyday.
In the summer, we ate bulgogi from heaping, communal platters. We ate bulgogi with crisp lettuce wraps and ssamjang — a real treat.
But in the winter, we ate bulgogi my preferred way: spooned over rice with its juices, accompanied by a cheerful, sunny side up egg. I have to admit, my favorite part was breaking the egg and scooping up bits of egg yolk-tinted rice. The first few bites were always the best.
(If you’ve been following along on this blog, you know I love bulgogi. This is not my first nor will it be my last recipe for bulgogi. Check out Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi or Chicken Bulgogi if you love bulgogi, too!)
First of all, what is Bulgogi?
Bulgogi is the catch-all Korean term that describes any kind of meat that’s cooked over charcoal or open flame. It literally means, “fire meat.” And that’s the perfect description of this dish that’s a staple for Korean parties and barbecues.
Bulgogi vs Bulgogi Bowls:
Bulgogi Bowls are different from Korean Beef Bulgogi. These bowls are made with ground beef and everyone eats from their own neat and tidy bowl.
Now, let me wax poetic about ground beef.
Ground beef requires little (if any) marinating time. Ground beef can also be found in regular grocery stores. I regard ground beef as the friendly, accessible meat option. Everyone’s comfortable cooking with it and pretty much everyone will eat it.
That’s why I like to think of Bulgogi Bowls as the proletariat version of Korean Beef Bulgogi. Think of it as the tasty, what-can-I-make-for-dinner, protein-rich option when pressed to get dinner on the table fast.
As a bonus, the leftovers are so good! And reheat easily. (I know I’m not the only one that thinks this is important.) I like to double the portions at dinnertime so there’s sure to be plenty for lunches the next day.
How to Make Bulgogi Bowls:
This recipe calls for 1 large onion. Half needs to be grated (on a box grater) into juicy onion pulp and the other half needs to be diced into chunks.
Marinate ground beef with grated onion, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, Mirin, and sesame oil.
Heat up a wok and fry the diced onion until soft and translucent.
Crank up the heat and add the marinated ground beef. Fry, fry, fry until most of the juice has evaporated and the beef has taken on a lovely, caramel brown color.
Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.
Heap into rice bowls with a fried egg on top. Serve with kimchi or steamed vegetable of your choice. Happy eating, friends!
- wok or cast iron pan, preferably
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 large onion, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce (not the low sodium kind)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp Mirin (Korean sweet cooking wine) rice wine also works
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
Assemble into bowls:
- 2 cups uncooked rice
- 4 sunny side up eggs
- Cook rice according to package directions.
- While the rice cooks, prep the onion. You will need 1 large onion. Grate 1/2 onion on a box grater so that it becomes juicy, onion pulp. Dice the other 1/2 onion in a medium dice.
- Marinate ground beef with grated onion, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, Mirin, and sesame oil.
- Heat up wok or cast iron skillet on medium heat. When the pan is warm, add 1-2 Tbsp neutral oil (I use grapeseed oil) and swirl around in the pan. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high heat. Add the marinated ground beef and keep cooking, breaking apart big chunks with a metal spatula or wooden spoon. Initially, a lot of liquid will release from the meat. Keep cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and the meat has turned dark brown in color with crispy edges, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add green onion and sesame seeds.
- While the meat cooks down, fry 4 eggs in a cast iron pan or non-stick skillet.
- Assemble into bowls: Evenly divide rice among 4 bowls. Evenly divide ground beef bulgogi over the rice. Top with a fried egg. Enjoy!