Bulgogi is a beloved Korean dish traditionally made with thinly sliced marinated beef (or pork) and cooked fast on a hot stovetop or barbecue. It’s… so, so good. But sometimes the traditional preparation can feel like a little much for an average meal. I had the idea to bring the flavors of bulgogi into a meatball! This recipe delivers the flavors you expect with the convenience you need.
Juicy seasoned beef glazed in a sticky, sweet and slightly spicy sauce checks all the right boxes in a fraction of the time. Give these a try with my Cheater Cucumber Kimchee (page 209), Chinese-Style Broccolini (page 193) or Ginger Carrots (page 187) for a meal that takes care of any Korean food craving.
FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 1 lb (454 g) ground beef (no leaner than 93%)
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1 egg
- 1⁄2 tsp sesame oil
- 1⁄4 cup (20 g) ground pork rinds
- 1 tsp (5 g) granulated garlic
- 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
- 1⁄4 tsp sea salt
- A few grinds of black pepper
FOR THE BULGOGI GLAZE
- 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) coconut aminos
- 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) apple juice
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp (10 g) coconut palm sugar
- 2 tsp (10 ml) sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp (8 g) minced fresh ginger
- 11⁄2 tsp (4 g) Korean red pepper flakes
- 1⁄2 tsp ground black pepper
- Heavy pinch of sea salt
- Thinly sliced scallions
- Toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
By hand, mix together the ground beef, scallion, egg, sesame oil, pork rinds, granulated garlic, ginger, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use a 1⁄4-cup (60 ml) measuring cup to portion out ten equally sized meatballs, rolling by hand and placing on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Bake for 25 minutes.
While the meatballs bake, prepare the bulgogi glaze. Mix together the coconut aminos, apple juice, vinegar, coconut palm sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt with a whisk, then transfer to a small saucepan. Set the temperature to medium-high and reduce until it becomes a syrupy glaze—about 15 to 18 minutes. This will result in about 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) of glaze. Set aside until the meatballs are done roasting.
Remove the meatballs from the oven, and while still warm, transfer them to a large mixing bowl. I like to use a pair of large tongs to transfer them, or chopsticks or even a large spoon. Pretty much anything but a spatula, if we’re really going to drill down on this step.
Once transferred, drizzle the warm bulgogi glaze over the meatballs and gently toss to evenly coat. Transfer the meatballs to a serving dish and top with the sliced scallions and sesame seeds. I like to use a rubber scraper to get the last of the glaze drizzled onto the meatballs, then sprinkle the sesame seeds first so they stick and finish with the thinly sliced scallions. Serve hot!
Keywords: bulgogi meatballs