My easy Korean beef rice bowls are ready in 30 minutes, and who wouldn’t want this for dinner? It’s full of spicy, umami flavor, but tone down the heat and kids will devour it.
Korean beef is the inspo for these easy rice bowls
As long as you’ve got a package of ground meat, we’ll work with what you’ve got in your fridge. I keep basic Asian condiments in my fridge door, so they’re staples for me, and I hope they are for you too. But don’t fret if you don’t have them all, this will still be delicious, even if all you have is soy sauce and garlic!
A quick Asian sauce transforms a package of ground beef into a umami rich meal.
I love this meal because it reminds me of the Dan Dan Noodles I made recently. They were such a hit with us that I really wanted to explore the concept further. This Korean style beef has a similar feel, and it’s equally delicious. Who knew ground meat (beef in this case, pork in the Dan Dan noodles) could taste so incredible?
The key here is that the beef is caramelized in a skillet with simple but intense flavors.
It’s so good it really doesn’t need anything but a shower of sesame seeds and some spicy chile oil. I would have added green onions, but my limited larder didn’t allow. I did add green beans to my second batch of beef and I really enjoyed that little punch of fresh green. You might add carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, or asparagus.
If you love things spicy, don’t omit the chili oil. You can buy it in the Asian section of your supermarket, and it keeps a long time in the fridge. If you don’t have any, use chili paste, some Sriracha or other hot sauce, or some red chili flakes instead.
How to get that rich dark color in Korean beef
The deep color is a distinguishing feature of Korean beef, and it comes from using dark soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is thicker and richer than regular soy sauce because it’s aged longer. It gives this beef a really dark color.
Fake it till you make it
I always use Tamari soy sauce, which is more of a light sauce, so for this dish I got creative and added a bit of, wait for it, Kitchen Bouquet, which is a gravy browning sauce that’s been around since 1873. It’s basically caramel coloring, with some vegetable flavoring, and I know it sounds crazy but I find it very helpful in situations where you want or need a deeper color in gravies, stews, or something like this beef.
Adding an egg on top really makes this dish uber comforting. I could eat it for every meal of the day ~ don’t let one of those delicious crumbles go to waste.
I get inspired by all sorts of Asian dishes ~
- Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Asian Slaw
- Spicy Tangerine Chicken
- Japanese Pork Dumplings
Easy Korean Beef Rice Bowls
- vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (I use a garlic press)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 10 green beans, sliced on the diagonal, optional (substitute carrots, green onions, or anything you've got on hand.)
- 4 cups hot cooked jasmine rice
- 3 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
- 3 Tbsp Dark soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Mirin, or rice wine, or sherry
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp chili oil or chili paste (use some dried red chili flakes if you don't have either)
- 1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
serving suggestions, optional
- sesame seeds
- chili oil
- fried eggs
- Heat a little oil in the bottom of a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion starts to soften. Add the ground beef, breaking it apart with the edge of a spatula while it cooks. You want the meat to be as finely broken up as possible, so keep at it.
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients, and add to the pan, stirring to combine. Let simmer for a few minutes. Add the green beans and cook for a minute more.
- Divide the hot rice between four bowls, and then top with the beef. Garnish with the sesame seeds, chili oil, and fried eggs, if desired. Serve with sriracha sauce.
notes and variations
- Ground pork, chicken, or turkey will work as well as beef.
- This recipe will work wonderfully with a plant based ground meat product.
- Use noodles instead of rice.
- Put the meat mixture in lettuce cups for a super low carb option.
- If you don't have dark soy sauce, use a little bit of Kitchen Bouquet or other gravy browning sauce to deepen the color of your sauce.