Grandma makes the BEST bulgogi!
My Grandma brought incredible stories and delicious recipes from her childhood in North Korea and her young adulthood in South Korea. She makes sure these traditions and wisdom are passed down so we don’t forget where our ancestors come from. Her most notorious recipe is her bulgogi, which is thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet and salty sauce and grilled. You can eat bulgogi with rice, in noodles like chapchae, or in Grandma’s Korean bulgogi tacos!
My Grandma moved to America from South Korea after she fell in love with my Grandpa. How romantic! When they met, my Grandpa was in the army and stationed in South Korea. One of my Grandma’s family members worked with the U.S. army and was invited to a dance/dinner party, and he brought the whole family along. That party was where my grandparents first laid eyes on each other.
My Grandpa pursued this Korean beauty and she eventually agreed to go on a date with him. Over the course of several months, they explored the city, went to the movies and when out dancing together. Eventually, my Grandpa popped the question! But since they were both underage, they had to gain permission from their guardians to marry.
Long story short, nearly sixty years later they are still married. And they’re two of my favorite people in the world.
How to make bulgogi
My Grandma doesn’t really measure ingredients. When I ask her how much sauce to marinate the beef in, she says, “Oh, you know, just enough so it tastes good, but not too much of course.” Right. My Grandma’s bulgogi has evolved over the years to adjust to the ingredients and time available to her now. For this bulgogi that we made together, she bought maybe two pounds (or more?) of thinly-sliced beef. We stood cooking it together for an hour because we were making enough to feed our family of eight at dinner that night!
Basically, just buy the most thinly sliced cut of beef you can find – the closer to paper, the better. My Grandma mixes together a sauce comprised of two types of Korean bulgogi sauce – one is sweeter and one is saltier to get the perfect blend of flavors.
Here are some recipes for bulgogi that are really delicious & simple to follow:
1. Damn Delicious – Korean Beef Bulgogi
2. My Korean Kitchen – Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
3. Maangchi – Easy Bulgogi
Korean tacos are one of my favorite ways to consume bulgogi because, let’s face it, tacos should be an essential food group. I LOVE TACOS.
Grandma’s Korean Bulgogi Tacos
- 1½ cups sliced cooked bulgogi
- 1 cup brown rice (measured when dry), cooked on the stove or in a rice cooker to your desired texture
- 8 oz canned water chestnuts in water, drained and diced
- 1 head lettuce (I love butter lettuce) with the leaves separated, rinsed and patted dry
- 5 Tbsp bibimbap sauce (or your sauce of choice)
- Grill or pan fry the marinated bulgogi. See post above for recipe suggestions for marinade ingredients and cooking times. Cook the rice on the stove or in a rice cooker to your desired texture. Drain and dice the water chestnuts and put them in a bowl.
- To assembly your bulgogi tacos, take one lettuce cup in your hand.Add a generous spoon of brown rice, a sprinkle of water chestnuts and a generous portion of your bulgogi. Add a bit of bibimbap sauce (or any spicy sauce of your choice) and enjoy!
- If you have leftovers, put everything in separate air tight containers in the fridge. Reheat the rice and bulgogi in the microwave and assemble more delicious tacos!