Tuffy’s Table: Budget Bulgogi | Way of life

Ground beef bulgogi is an economical alternative to the authentic Korean dish. (Jessica Choi/Daily Titan)

Bulgogi is a classic Korean dish rooted in the cuisine of the culture. Its famous status reigns on the tables of Korean barbecue restaurants, as its name literally translates to fire meat. However, this grilled, thinly sliced ​​and marinated beef dish traces its origins far beyond its contemporary significance and dates back to the Goguryeo dynasty from 37 BC to 668 AD, according to the Korea Journal.

Marinating this sweet and savory meat follows a simple combination of ingredients commonly found in Korean cuisine: soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onion, sesame oil and Asian pear. Bulgogi is also usually made from the tender cut of ribeye, but other cuts like brisket and sirloin are also commonly used.

Authentic, quality bulgogi can take a while to prepare and cost more. But this fast and economical bulgogi copier can satisfy your craving in a fraction of the time and money.

Gathering the ingredients for this recipe is much easier for students as they can be found at most grocery stores, as many carry essential Asian ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil and mirin (wine rice). Also, instead of a thin slice of high-quality beef, this economical bulgogi will use ground beef. In this recipe, the Asian pear which is usually used in traditional recipes will be omitted.

This ground beef bulgogi is perfect for the busy student because you can cook this dish once and have multiple servings for multiple meals. Just be sure to accompany the bulgogi with a side of rice or a carb of your choice – fresh, white, short-grain rice goes best.

Many of these ingredient amounts can be adjusted to suit the cook’s personal taste preferences.


  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably lean)

  • 4-8 garlic cloves

  • 1 white onion

  • 2-5 green onions

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons mirin (rice wine)

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

  • ⅓ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds


  1. Mince or roughly chop the garlic cloves, thinly slice the white onion and chop the green onions for garnish.

  2. Marinate the ground beef in a bowl with the garlic, white onion, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and black pepper. Mix all the components together and leave for 5-30 minutes. The marinating time is up to the cook as it is not necessary, however, it does enhance the flavor.

  3. Place a large saucepan over high heat. Coat it with neutral cooking oil once the pan is hot.

  4. Place and cook the marinated ground beef in the skillet over high to medium-high heat for 8 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the meat has run out of liquid in the pan, it is ready.

  5. Turn off the heat and drizzle the bulgogi with sesame oil, sesame seeds and green onions.

  6. Serve over rice or your choice of carbs.

  7. Optional, but top the sweet, salty, and umami bulgogi with Korean chili flakes and jalapeno slices for a spicy kick. Also, enjoying any Korean dish with a side of kimchi is always welcome.

Now that you are done making the quick and easy economical bulgogi, store the remaining portion in the fridge. You can always reheat the bulgogi in a pan or in the microwave for convenience. According to the Department of Agriculture, refrigerated cooked ground beef can generally be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days and in the freezer for up to four months.

Ground beef bulgogi is a simple recipe that’s great for convenience, easy on the wallet, and a delicious take on authentic Korean bulgogi.