Korean Bulgogi Beef Salad ~ this is steak salad Korean style and bulgogi beef is the most flavorful grilled meat you’ll ever taste, no contest. My Korean barbecue inspired salad is topped with juicy marinated skewers and a variety of colorful veggie ‘sides’ ~ kimchee optional!
*Today’s post is in partnership with Lee Kum Kee, established in China way back in 1888, and still providing authentic and delicious Asian style sauces and condiments in the US and throughout the world.
If you love to grill, but hot dogs and hamburgers aren’t your thing, I think you’re going to be glad you stopped by today. I’m grilling up fabulous marinated beef and setting it right on top of a crisp, cool, and super healthy salad bowl. You’re gonna love this Korean Beef Bulgogi Salad, trust me!
My beef salad takes its cue from traditional Korean barbecue, which, if you’ve never had it, is the way the Koreans love to eat ~ it’s a group affair, with meats grilled right in the center of the table, surrounded by a myriad of small side dishes, called banchan, to go with. The diners will wrap their bits of cooked meat in lettuce, and eat it along with some combination of the sides. My recipe incorporates those flavors into a main course salad perfect for summer entertaining.
The star of my Korean bulgogi beef salad is the beef, for sure. Bulgogi beef is the classic beef of Korean barbecue fame…it’s thinly sliced and marinated/tenderized in a somewhat complicated blend of Asian sauces and spices, including soy, mirin, sesame oil, gochujang (a Korean chili sauce) garlic, ginger, and Asian pear. Pear puree serves to tenderize the meat.
I simplified things by using Lee Kum Kee’s Panda Brand™ Sauce for Korean Barbecue Stir Fry as my marinade, it’s such a convenience to have all the flavors I need right in the packet, even the tenderizing pear puree!
My beef turned out succulent and delicious, with big, bold flavors. Lee Kum Kee makes more than 200 authentic sauces and condiments, and that comes in so handy when you’re craving Asian food but don’t have the time to fuss with a complicated recipe. All their ingredients are non-GMO, which is so nice to know.
TIP: I put my steak in the freezer for an hour to firm it up, and then sliced it thinly against the grain. I add the sauce, toss it to coat, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
There are lots of ways to cook your bulgogi beef ~ you can do it in a wok or skillet, but since it’s summer I feel like grilling mine. I thread the slices onto skewers and put them right on the grates of a charcoal grill, or on a smoking hot grill pan on the stove. You’re not aiming for rare here, you’re looking for nice char marks. The marinade, which contains some sugar and molasses, helps to develop that gorgeous color quickly.
The convenience of using a Lee Kum Kee sauce frees me up to concentrate on other aspects of my Korean barbecue salad. Koreans are known for their love of pickled veggies, so I’m making a couple of quick pickles that will brighten everything up. If you follow the blog you might remember this easy concept from my TUNA POKE BOWLS ~ I’m basically following the same format here with fresh radishes, cukes, and spiralized carrots. That adds color and crunch to my bowl, plus that pickle flavor Koreans are famous for. And they’re just so darned pretty!
Radishes are quintessentially Korean, they appear in lots of their recipes. Daikon radish, the big tubular white ones, are the most commonly used, but I substituted these pretty watermelon and French breakfast radishes. You can use any kind you like, even the regular little red ones.
You can use the pickles right away, or leave them overnight in the refrigerator, it’s up to you. The veggies will retain their crunch. I did a basic rice wine vinegar brine for the radishes and cukes, and a spicy red pepper pickle for the carrots. You can reuse the pickling liquids again and again, so don’t discard.
TIP: I admit my spiralizer has sat unused since my ZOODLE PAD THAI SALAD recipe. But I’m so glad I got it out again for the carrots, the spirals are crisp yet delicate and the perfect texture for this salad.
When you’re ready to assemble your salad, you can leave your meat on the skewers or slide it off onto your greens. I accent the meat with some snipped chives or green onion, and a scattering of toasted sesame seeds. With so much going on here you don’t really need dressing for the lettuce, there’s plenty of trickle down flavor for this salad. I added a good dollop of chili mayo because it’s sooooo good with the meat.
To kimchee, or not to kimchee?
That’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself…kimchee, or fermented, pickled cabbage, has its lovers and its heaters, but it’s always present at a Korean barbecue, so I put a dollop right in the center of my salad. Depending on where you live, you can buy it ready made, look for it at specialty, gourmet, or Whole Foods stores. If you’re ambitious you can make it yourself, here’s a recipe. Plan on making it at least a week before you want to eat it to allow it time to ferment.
- 1 lb top sirloin steak
- 1 9-ounce packet Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Sauce for Korean BBQ Stir Fry
- 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and torn or cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup prepared kimchee
- 1 cup radish and cucumber pickle (recipe below)
- 1 cup spicy carrot pickle (recipe below)
- large handful fresh bean sprouts, any variety you like
- 2 -4 eggs, boiled, peeled, and halved
- 1 watermelon radish, cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 small Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced but not peeled
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large carrot, spiralized (or cut into fine matchsticks)
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2-3 Tbsp chili paste or Sriracha sauce, to taste
- 1-2 hot red peppers, thinly sliced
- snipped chives or green onions
- toasted sesame seeds
- fresh cilantro leaves
- Slice the steak into thin slices, cutting against the grain. If you like you can put the whole steak in the freezer for an hour to firm it up so it will slice easier. Put the steak slices in a bowl and toss with the Lee Kum Kee Korean Barbecue Sauce to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
- To make the radish/cucumber pickle heat the water, vinegar, sugar, peppercorns and bayleaf in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Put the veggies in a small bowl or jar and pour the hot pickling mixture over them. Make sure they are completely submerged...if not, add a bit more hot water. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate.
- Make the carrot pickle in the same manner.
- Thread the marinated beef slices onto skewers. Grill the skewers over high heat, either on a charcoal grill or a grill pan on the stove. Flip once you see nice char marks on the meat.
- Arrange the lettuce in a large shallow salad bowl. Put a pile of kimchee in the center. Place the eggs, pickled vegetables, and sprouts around the kimchee. Note: allow some of the pickling liquid to trickle down to 'dress' the lettuce. Lay the beef skewers across the bowl. Garnish with the red pepper slices, snipped chives or green onions, toasted sesame seeds, and cilantro leaves. Serve with the chili mayonnaise.
- To make the mayonnaise, whisk the chili sauce into the mayo, adjusting the amount to your taste.
Make it your own ~
- Put the bulgogi beef skewers over a bowl of hot rice instead of the salad.
- Make easy lettuce wraps ~ cut the beef in small bites and serve with lettuce leaves for wrapping.
- The Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand™ Sauce was so good, I will use it as my go-to marinade for skewers this summer, regardless of the rest of the menu!