Fast enough for weeknight dinner. Special enough for holiday potlucks. Saucy and indulgent Osam Bulgogi!
Korean grocery stores do many things well. But they do pre-packaged, make-at-home food especially well.
I don’t mean frozen pizza or microwave dinners. I’m talking about pre-made food that you reheat or finish cooking at home: marinated meats, pre-breaded cutlets, an assortment of banchan (side dishes), long-cooked bone soup that’s jiggly with collagen, and soup kits you can throw into a pot.
In South Korea, this practice makes it possible for people to work full-time jobs and still eat a home cooked meal. The North American equivalent would be delivery meal kits that you order online, ingredients + instructions included.
That’s how I was introduced to Osam Bulgogi. I saw a pre-assembled kit of Osam Bulgogi at the Korean market. I bought the kit to cook at home. Included: pre-marinated pork bulgogi, raw squid, spicy paste, and an assortment of vegetables. After 15 minutes, dinner was on the table!
What an ingenious idea for the busy home cook. The ease and convenience of the pre-packaged meal kit won me over.
I wondered, could I make a Osam Bulgogi recipe simple enough to cook at home? That’s how this recipe came to be.
What is Osam Bulgogi?
Osam Bulgogi is a Korean dish that combines both squid (Ojingeo) and pork belly (Samgyeopsal).
O + Sam = Ojingeo Samygeopsal
Osam Bulgogi belongs to the Korean family of Bulgogi dishes. Bulgogi is anything that’s cooked over a fire, BBQ style. Literally, “Bul” = Fire. “Gogi” = Meat. If you’ve eaten Korean BBQ, chances are you’ve eaten some kind of Bulgogi.
For Osam Bulgogi, I like the inclusion of pork belly and squid — these are not everyday items so Osam Bulgogi feels indulgent. A holiday worthy dish, for sure. But fast enough for weeknights, too.
Pork Belly. Thinly sliced pork belly makes this dish so succulent and delicious. Look for it in the meat aisle at your Asian market. It can also be found in the frozen section.
Squid. To make cooking with squid easier, I suggest using baby squid. Unlike adult-size squid, baby squid don’t need cleaning or breaking down. Their petite size also means they can be cooked whole. I buy them frozen and defrost in cold water. SO much easier!
Spicy Paste. Mix the spicy paste in a bowl beforehand. When it’s time to cook, you’ll want to have it ready right away. The cooking time goes very fast, about 6-8 min total!
Vegetables. A variety of vegetables make for a delicious dish. One half of the onion will be used in the spicy paste (diced) and the second half of the onion will be sliced for aromatics, alongside the green onions. The green cabbage also adds a nice crunch, without overpowering the final taste of the dish. Green cabbage is very mild and soaks up all the flavors of the sauce. So good!
How to Make Osam Bulgogi:
Prep ingredients: marinate pork belly, defrost baby squid, make spicy paste, chop vegetables. Once you start cooking, it goes very fast so make sure everything is ready beforehand.
In a smoking hot wok, add oil and pork belly. Cook until 80% done.
Add squid and spicy paste. Mix with spatula until well combined.
Add vegetables. Mix again. Add sprinkle of fish sauce and mix again.
Add a drizzle of sesame oil and sesame seeds. Serve with rice and kimchi. Enjoy!
- Long handled spatula (for mixing)
- 1 lb baby squid (defrosted)
- 1 lb Pork Belly, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp Gochujang
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 onion, small diced
- 3 Tbsp Gochukaru (use less if you like things less spicy, like 1 Tbsp)
- 2 Tbsp Gochujang
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1-2 cups green cabbage, roughly chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped into 2-inch segments
- 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce (at the end)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil (for drizzling, at the end)
- Once you start cooking, it goes very fast so make sure everything is ready beforehand.
- Marinate pork belly: in a large bowl, combine pork belly, gochujang, soy sauce, and sugar and mix well.
- Prep baby squid: make sure baby squid is defrosted. Rinse with cold water and drain, squeezing out excess liquid.
- Make spicy paste: in a medium bowl, combine onion, gochukaru, gochujang, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and mix well with a spoon.
- Prep vegetables: slice onion, chop green cabbage, chop green onions.
In the wok:
- Heat wok on high heat until smoking. Make sure everything is nearby, as the cooking time goes very fast. Add 1 Tbsp oil, making sure to swirl around the bottom of the wok. Add pork belly and cook, stirring with a long handled spatula until 80% cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add spicy paste and squid and mix well. Make sure the spicy paste covers all of the pork belly, about 2-3 minutes.
- When the squid is not fully cooked but the tentacles start to curl a bit, add the vegetables. Mix well until the vegetables start to wilt and cook down, about 3-4 minutes. The Osam Bulgogi is done when the Squid is fully cooked through and the onions are soft but the cabbage still has a little crunch.
- When everything has finished cooking, add fish sauce. Add 1 Tbsp at a time, tasting after each addition. You may not need at 2 Tbsp of fish sauce. (Taste and adjust accordingly.)
- Drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve immediately with rice and kimchi. Optional: serve with lettuce wraps and ssamjang, if eating Korean BBQ style.