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Mar 9, 2013 01:59 PM

Bulgogi marinade

I am planning to use the following to marinate sirloin for bulgogi:

1 T sesame oil
4 T soy sauce
2T sugar
1 kiwi chopped finely
green onion
sliced yellow onion
2 T Gochujang

I know it's ideal to marinate for a few hours, but can I marinate overnight for up to 24 hours (dinner tomorrow)? Or should I prepare it in the morning?


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  1. I believe that the Kiwi contains an Enzyme that will breakdown the Meat so marinating too long can result in a mushy or mealy texture.
    Also Asian Pear for Kiwi and some Honey to replace some of the sugar is more traditional than the recipe you listed. Also some Sesame Seed,Scallions and Dried Korean Chili instead of the Gochujang.

    1. In my restaurant we would often marinate then freeze for up to one week (of course we would do a hundred pounds or more).
      I much prefer the flavor that Bae (Korean pear) gives to marinades over kiwi, but that is personal opinion - a lot of people like the kiwi.

      Using kiwi, I wouldn't go any longer than 6 - 8 hours.
      Like chefj I believe that adding some honey and dropping the sugar somewhat (1Tbs sugar - 1 1/2Tbs honey) would be beneficial.

      16 Replies
        1. re: fldhkybnva

          The kiwi does act as a tenderizer, as does the pear (pear works slower).

          That said, we have left out the fruit element before and still had good results.

          Semi-Sweet apple is a good sub for the pear.

          1. re: hannaone

            I just left it out and went ahead with the marinade. Hopefully it will be tasty tomorrow. It's such a simple recipe I am still trying to figure out where it gets that particular bulgogi flavor from even when not cooked on a grill as the ingredients seem similar to other Asian-style marinades which seem to have a different flavor result.

        2. re: hannaone

          Dear hannaone,

          Wouldn't you please share your marinade recipe again? It produces the best bulgogi I've ever had.


          1. re: Joebob



            3/4 cup natural brewed soy sauce
            3/4 cup unsalted beef broth or water
            1 small onion
            1 small Nashi (Asian) pear or semi sweet apple
            6 cloves garlic
            1 ounce fresh ginger
            1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
            1/4 cup honey
            3 spring/green onion
            2 teaspoons pure toasted sesame seed oil
            1 tablespoon rice wine
            1/2 teaspoon black pepper

            Cut onion, pear/apple, and ginger into small pieces and place in blender with garlic and just enough water to blend into a smooth liquid.
            Pour into medium mixing bowl.
            Trim root and top 1/8 inch of green onion, rinse in cold water, and finely chop. Add to bowl.
            Add all other ingredients. Mix well and let stand for at least fifteen minutes.
            Note: If marinade is very thick, you can thin it by adding water and soy sauce in a 1 to 1 ratio.

            This marinade works well with beef, chicken, and pork. You should marinate for at least one hour.
            Pour just enough marinade in to coat the meat, any leftover marinade can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.
            The marinade can also be used as a basting sauce.

            Just a side note: I have been using Omija Cha (Plum Tea) as the sweetener/fruit ingredient for grilled or broiled with excellent results

            1. re: hannaone

              Strong Green Tea also makes a great sub for the Beef Broth/Water

              1. re: hannaone

                Hannaone, I am dying to try this recipe as I love bulgogi. Last week it was OK, but I think your recipe might just clinch it for me and I won't have to drive an hour for Korean BBQ. I know many scoff at the chicken version but wondered if you had any thoughts perhaps with chicken thighs instead of chicken breast and if there's one you recommend or a beef cut you recommend other than ribeye. Also, how long do you marinade and have you ever used the broiler instead? Sorry, lastly how much meat is this quantity of marinade for?

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  This will work with chicken and pork as well, and thighs do work best since they are juicier and have more flavor than breast does.
                  For beef just about any cut will work since it should be very thin sliced. We usually use something like top round, flank steak, even chuck.
                  This marinade should work for up to 2 1/2 lbs.

                2. re: hannaone

                  How do you cook up the beef? Pan fry?

                  1. re: Jakis

                    I usually broil it if you don't have a grill at the ready.

                    1. re: Jakis

                      Depending on the thickness of the meat, you can pan fry, grill, stir-fry, or broil.

                    2. re: hannaone

                      I made this recipe with thinly-sliced rib eye from our local H-Mart, but subbed about 1/4 cup of rice wine for some of the water. I did use Asian pear and really liked the flavor. It was terrific, hannaone. Thanks!

                      1. re: hannaone

                        Just replying so I don't lose this recipe again. I got some Asian pears from work specifically so I could try this out. Dinner tomorrow! So excited.

                        My mom's recipe doesn't have any fruit in it, so I'm interested to see how this tastes in comparison.

                        EDIT: I do have a question, though. The pears I have are quite large. Close to softball-sized, maybe a pound each. Should I use half of one? Less?

                        1. re: Kontxesi

                          Depends on how much meat/marinade.
                          For the recipe above, half should be fine.

                    3. I love gochujang but it's not usually used to make bulgogi.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Isn't it often offered as one of the banchan at Korean BBQ? Good to know though as I never thought it added much unless you add enough to make it pretty spicy.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          Gochujang is not a Banchan. It is a condiment. Banchan are small side dishes to be eaten with your meal in their own right.
                          You may be thinking of Doenjang bean paste that along with Lettuce, raw Garlic slices and sliced Chilis is used to wrap grilled Meats and rice.

                          1. re: chefj

                            Yea, sorry that was it the Doenjang. I have no idea, the recipe was from a Korean friend so perhaps I can just skip it next time.

                      2. Skip the kiwi. Gochujang is traditionally not used in beef bulgogi.

                        1. I guess I've been doing something non-traditional for many years. I don't use any fruit in my bulgogi marinade. Though I read somewhere that soy sauce has a similar enzyme and will tenderize the meat at a somewhat slower pace.

                          I usually use 1T of sugar per every 1.5 lbs of meat. And I sprinkle it on the meat before I do anything else. I suppose this would be called a "sugar cure," but it only goes for maybe 20-30 minutes. The sugar definitely reacts with the meat in a way I don't entirely understand. After about 20-30 minutes, the sugar will have entirely melted into/onto the meat.

                          After that I use about 1/4 cup soy, 3-4 thinly sliced scallions, 5-6 cloves of minced garlic, ~1T sesame oil. Optional ingredients, depending on what I have at hand: minced ginger, a bunch of freshly ground black pepper, korean red pepper flakes, sesame seeds.

                          Marinate 2-24 hours. Without the fruit, the meat doesn't over-tenderize.

                          I've never seen gochujang in bulgogi either.


                          1 - I'm not korean, and the sugar cure was an accidental discovery.
                          2 - I usually use whole flank steak marinate as above, grill it to R/MR, then slice thinly, and serve with rice, doenjang, lettuce and banchan (kimchi at least).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: egit

                            There are so many variations to bulgogi and the marinade that there is no wrong way unless it just plain blows when you taste it.
                            Using whole steak is similar to a method/dish called Neobani. Thin cut steak is marinated/seasoned, then grilled.
                            Neobani is thought to be a forerunner of Bulgogi, and was probably descended from Mongolian seasoned meat dishes.