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White platter topped with bulgogi.
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4.5 from 36 votes

Mom’s Bulgogi with Cucumber Kimchi Salad

Serve this dish over rice and alongside cucumber kimchi salad for a great take on a classic Korean dish.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Additional Time5 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 40 mins
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: beef, bulgogi, Korean, main dish
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 952kcal
Author: Lynda



  • 3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ 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 ¼ 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
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon 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


  • 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 4 to 5 hours.
  • 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 to stir gently. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Serve the bulgogi on top of steamed rice. Garnish with green onion and toasted sesame seeds and spoon the cucumber kimchi salad alongside.
  • Store the leftover bulgogi and cucumber kimchi salad in separate covered containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.



Joanna's 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.
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.
Recipe excerpted from Magnolia Table: a collection for gathering by Joanna Gaines, copyright 2018. Recipe reprinted with permission.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 952kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 179mg | Sodium: 2064mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g