Bulgogi Bowls are made with thin strips of marinated beef and seared bok choy served over rice and then drizzled with a lightly spiced soy tahini sauce! It’s easy, fresh, and the perfect anytime dinner idea!
Table of contents
Beef Bulgogi Bowl
As far as Asian cuisine goes, it’s important to remember that Asian-inspired dishes cover a multitude of different countries, cultures, and ingredients! I’ve always loved Korean food but it hasn’t always been as widely popular as Thai, Japanese, or Chinese food has been here in America. I’m happy to say, that’s definitely changing and this Korean beef bowl are just one of the reasons why!
Bulgogi is a traditional Korean dish made from thin strips of beef marinated in a savory marinade then pan seared in a pan on the stovetop, or even in a stir fry. The juicy, melt-in-your-mouth, deliciously flavored meat is unlike anything you’ve ever had!
We’re taking this Asian-inspired Korean beef and turning it into a quick weeknight dinner complete with a bed of rice, crispy-seared vegetable, and an easy soy tahini sauce for drizzling on top. This beef bowl will rival your favorite Korean restaurant menu item any day!
What is the best type of beef for bulgogi bowls?
I recommend using flank steak, T-bone, or sirloin for the most tender results. Ground beef is the way to go if you’re short on time, as there is no slicing necessary.
- White rice, cooked: This is a great time to use leftover rice if you’ve got it! Otherwise, cook it according to package instructions.
- Bok Choy: Also known as Chinese cabbage, it’s a leafy green vegetable with a bulbous that kind of resembles the texture of celery-ish! It contains a lot of water, so it’s always juicy and flavorful when cooked. Cut each one in half lengthwise.
For the Bulgogi Beef
- Sirloin steak: Sliced thin. Very thin, actually. It’s easier to slice it while it is still a bit frozen if you can.
- Brown sugar: For the signature sweetness.
- Rice vinegar: Needed for the sour!
- Garlic & Ginger: Aromatics that deliver incredible flavor and are two ingredients used in plenty of Korean sauces.
- Olive oil: Used to sauté the meat and cook the bok choy.
For the Soy Tahini Sauce
- Soy sauce: The umami flavor that delivers a robust, savory, and salty taste.
- Tahini: Made from sesame seeds, which along with the sesame oil and sesame seeds provides earthy, nuttiness.
- Sesame oil: Used to bring all of the ingredients together in a thinned-out, pourable sauce, and what better oil to use than sesame!
- Sriracha sauce: A delicious spicy condiment that will add beautiful heat and a slight red hue to the sauce.
- Sesame seeds: A sprinkling of seeds and green onions for garnish just to top off your bulgogi bowls!
1: Use your favorite cut of beef or lean ground beef.
2: Use low-sodium soy sauce if you’re worried about sodium levels. Tamari or coconut aminos are great for a gluten-free version.
3: Use other favorite vegetables. Cooked snow peas, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, asparagus, or carrots are great.
4: You can use fermented spicy cabbage, also known as kimchi instead, or fresh cucumbers instead. Pickled onions or other veggies are also amazing!
5: Swap white rice for brown rice or quinoa instead. Serve bulgogi bowls with cauliflower rice for lower carbs.
6: Swap the meat: use ground turkey or ground chicken or plant-based ground meat.
7: Top with a fried egg, for a bibimbap-inspired meal!
8: Swap the brown sugar for coconut sugar if desired.
Is bulgogi and bibimbap the same thing?
No! At its core, bulgogi is a simple beef dish served on rice. It’s when we turn it into a rice bowl with added veggies and an assortment of flavors and sauces, then it becomes very similar to bibimbap, which is mixed veggies (sometimes raw, sometimes cooked) and beef served over rice and it often contains a fried egg and kimchi.
This is why the more creative you get with your bulgogi bowls, the more you can start crossing the line into bibimbap territory!
How to Make These Bulgogi Rice Bowls
Bulgogi bowls come together to give you a hearty and satisfying healthy dinner idea that explodes with flavor. As you can see from above, there are plenty of ways to make them your own!
Step 1: Marinate the sliced steak in a medium bowl at room temperature for about 20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. All you need to do to make the marinade is combine and mix the ingredients.
Step 2: While the meat marinates, make the sauce. Again, easy peasy, add the ingredients to a small bowl to mix and combine. Set that aside for later.
Step 3: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the beef and the marinade to the hot skillet in a single layer. Cook over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until the beef is cooked to your liking and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the skillet from the stove.
Step 4: In a clean skillet (not a must, just nice to have), add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Sear the bok choy cut side down for 2-3 minutes until crisp and browned. Then, flip each piece and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Step 5: Assemble the bulgogi bowls by dividing cooked rice into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with the beef bulgogi and bok choy. Then, top with the soy tahini sauce and finish it off with a garnish of green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- For quick prep, use garlic paste or ginger paste found in the produce section of the grocery store.
- Level of heat. Leave out the sriracha for less spice or add more for a spicier version.
- To help cut your steak into thin slices, use a very sharp knife. Slice against the grain for the most tender bite.
- If you have a tough cut of beef, like chuck, you’ll need to tenderize it first. Otherwise, it’ll end up too chewy.
- If you’d like to take a shortcut, you can find thinly sliced beef done for you at most Asian grocery stores.
Keep any leftovers from your bulgogi bowls stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. Lunch the next day just got easier and even more delicious!
There are parts you can make ahead of time to save you some minutes for a quick and easy dinner! Make the rice the day before. You can also marinate the beef overnight, especially if you’re using frozen beef.
Wash and slice any veggies you’re going to use, and even make the soy tahini sauce ahead of time.
- 1 cup white rice cooked
- 1 pound bok choy
For the Bulgogi
- 1 pound sirloin steak sliced thin
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Soy-Tahini Sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Cook the rice per package directions on the stove-top or in a rice cooker.
Marinading the Bulgogi Beef
- In a large bowl, add the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic and mix to combine.
- Add the sliced steak and stir to coat well. Marinate at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat until warm (not too hot).
- Add the beef and the marinade to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the beef is cooked to your liking and the the liquid has evaporated.
- Remove the skillet from the stove.
Making the Sauce
- While the meat is marinading, make the sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine well.
Cooking the Vegetables
- Add the olive oil to skillet and heat over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, place the bok choy cut side down.
- Sear for 2-3 minutes or until the bok choy is crisp and browned.
- Then flip each piece and cook it for an additional 2-3 minutes or until desired tenderness.
Assembling the Bowls
- Divide the rice, cooked beef, and boy choy between four bowls.
- Top with the soy-tahini sauce and garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.