Fresh pear, coconut aminos, tender meat, and rice unite in this simple, tasty, Korean bulgogi (i.e. Korean BBQ) recipe.
If you’re unfamiliar with bulgogi, it is a Korean barbecue dish that originated a LONG time ago and was usually made for wealthy people (because poor people didn’t get beef back then). It is basically a sweet and savory beef dish with a sauce made of Asian pear and a tasty soy sauce.
The traditional version is made using tender beef cuts. My version also can be made using tender beef cuts, but that makes it a Crossover (XO) on Trim Healthy Mama. So, instead, I usually make it with lean beef, lean turkey, or chicken.
Korean bulgogi is awesome served over rice. Drizzle on some of the excess sauce and it’s even better. It’s also amazing with cabbage or coleslaw veggies on top for a pleasant crunch. My kids and hubby like it with a bunch of cheese (also creating a Crossover) and inside a tortilla (kinda like an Asian taco).
This recipe is excellent for creating on busy nights. It is super fast and easy to throw together and all you need is ground meat for your protein.
Beyond being an amazing Trim Healthy Mama dish, it also makes a great Whole30 one (just omit the molasses and use cauliflower rice instead).
What to Serve with Bulgogi
In the recipe, I recommend either brown rice or riced cauliflower because this Korean bulgogi goes great atop of either.
Alternatively, you can serve it rolled up inside a low carb tortilla.
Alongside the bulgogi, I’d recommend some yummy veggies. I typically serve ours with roast broccoli that has been baked in a mixture of mostly avocado oil and with a bit of sesame seed oil, and I toss some sesame seeds in with it.
A side salad, asparagus, green beans, or peas are all wonderful side dish ideas that would go well with this dish as well.
Pick Your Protein
This dish is easily customizable! I usually make it with lean (or rinsed) ground beef, but you can use ground turkey, ground chicken, chicken breast, or ribeye steak. It also goes well with ground game meat or thinly sliced backstrap cuts.
If you are doing Trim Healthy, then when picking your protein, keep the fuel source in mind. Fattier meats will make the recipe (when using the pear, which makes it more authentic) a Crossover (XO). This is still on plan, just not necessarily as conducive to weight loss as an S or an E.
To Pear or Not to Pear
In my recipe, I use a pear to add sweetness and authentic bulgogi flavor. If you don’t have a pear, you can substitute it with an apple.
However, if you would rather not use a pear or an apple (there are some evenings I don’t want to use either because we are in more of a rush), then you can omit them and instead add 1 tablespoon THM Super Sweet or equivalent sweetener so that it still maintains that sweet and savory goodness.
Easy Korean Bulgogi
- 1 fresh Asian pear, bosc pear, or fuji apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (see notes)
- ½ cup coconut aminos
- ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger (about 1 inch), peeled OR ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon unsulphured blackstrap molasses, optional (omit for Whole30)
- 2 pounds ground beef (96% lean or leaner), chicken breast (thinly sliced), ground turkey, or ground chicken (see notes for XO option)
- ½ yellow onion, finely diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced¼
- ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, optional
- 4 green onion stalks, chopped
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups
cooked brown rice OR riced cauliflower
- Add the sauce ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth; set aside.
- Brown the meat in a saucepan over high heat, stirring frequently.
- Add the onion, garlic, and sesame seeds. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until onions are translucent and the garlic and seeds are toasty.
- Stir in sauce and remaining ingredients except rice. Heat through (about 2 minutes).
- Serve meat mixture over rice and enjoy!