Spicy Korean Bulgogi Pork & Rice Bowls

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Hey again, how do you all feel about some really spicy food today? Yeah, you game?

spicy-korean-bulgogi-pork-rice-bowls-5 So it’s already the weekend isn’t it? Just, wow. This week has been a really indescribable one for me, and I can’t decide whether it flew by or took forever to pass because I feel like both apply. It’s been a week of firsts for me. You know how sometimes those big life changes happen gradually, and then other times they smack you right in the face? Well, my week was filled with multiple cases of the latter. I just need a reality check I think.

spicy-korean-bulgogi-pork-rice-bowls-4  I don’t mean to be ambiguous, but some of what I’m talking about I couldn’t even put into words if I tried. Maybe I can do a better job another time. What I can put into words are things like how it’s still really weird for me to see my little sister with her boyfriend and how I can’t figure out how mid September crept up on us already. Oh, and this weekend is Chile’s Independence day and that’s a really beloved holiday here. There will be countless asados (Traditional Chilean Barbecues) and lots of celebrating all across the country. Also happening in the next few days, our friend Diego, (who I’ve been telling you about the last few weeks) will be coming on Monday. It’s really exciting to know we’re going to have a house guest that can help me with my terrible Spanish skills. But anyway, My family’s “normal” is changing really fast and I’m trying to catch up.

spicy-korean-bulgogi-pork-rice-bowls Speaking of firsts, I have never made Korean food before even though I’ve been eyeing quite some different recipe ideas for awhile. What inspired me to finally get around to making something Korean was a friend of mine. I have a friend who recently went there and was thoughtful enough to bring me some authentic ingredients that I just couldn’t wait to use. One of those being the Gochujang that I needed for making some homemade kimchi. Gochujang is sort if like Korea’s spicier version of ketchup. It’s a fermented condiment that’s mostly made from red chili and they use it everywhere.

spicy-korean-bulgogi-pork-rice-bowls-2 Oh, and if you’re wondering what kimchi is, it’s a traditional side dish that’s also fermented (clearly Koreans like to ferment things) and it’s also served with everything. There are many versions that I’ve found while searching different recipes but the typical main ingredient is cabbage. I may have broken some law somewhere by adding cucumbers and carrots to mine, but since I’m not Korean maybe you can cut me some slack. I’d like to share a recipe for kimchi at some point, but today I’m just going to stick with these bowls.

spicy-korean-bulgogi-pork-rice-bowls-3 Alright, so these bowls you guys, they are so amazing! The flavors of the pork marinade are kind of everything! As for the sides, you can mix and match different veggies that you like and serve this meal with however much kimchi you want. It makes it a great way to feed a big group as well because everyone can pick and choose what they want. That’s another traditional part of how Koreans do it, they serve things all separate. There are tons of sides that could have been included here an internet search will give you many ideas. I wanted to keep it fairly simple though, so I did steamed veggies, white rice, kimchi, a simple cucumber salad, and some homemade sauce that’s quick and easy to make. Oh, and I meant to have an egg on the side but I totally spaced and forgot to add it to my pictures! Ooops, you’ll have to humor me and imagine that I didn’t forget that important detail. Then you have to add an egg to your bowls so I’ll feel like less of a loser. Thanks.

spicy-korean-bulgogi-pork-rice-bowls-6 Hopefully you like it hot because there is a ton of heat involved when your eating Korean style. However, if you aren’t so into the spice I get it, I made the mistake of making some of it too hot and the kiddos didn’t like that so I completely understand cutting back a bit. Feel free to adjust it to what you like.

spicy-korean-bulgogi-pork-rice-bowls-7 Lastly, don’t forget to eat it with chopsticks, it’s just so much more fun that way!


Spicy Korean Bulgogi Pork & Rice Bowls

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 servings


    Bulgogi Pork Marinade:
  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin or shoulder, cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 asian pears, peeleds and diced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • Korean Gochujang (Korean hot pepper sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • Spicy Bulgogi Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Gochujang (or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Korean Cucumber Salad:
  • 2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Korean Gochujang
  • Bowls:
  • 4 - 6 cups steamed rice
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onions, diced
  • kimchi as desired*
  • steamed vegetables (I used broccoli and carrots)
  • fried or boiled eggs (optional)


    Bulgogi Pork Marinade:
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a medium to large stainless steal bowl and add the meat. Turn the meat and be sure to coat each piece completely with marinade, then cover bowl and refrigerate for minimum of 30 minutes and up to 48 hours. (the longer you can give it the better. This is also a good time to make the other pieces for the bowls.)
  2. Once ready to cook, Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and add the meat and the entire contents of your marinade bowl to the pan. Cook, stirring gently, until the pork is completely cooked, about 2 minutes per side. Serve over steamed rice, along with your sauce, cucumber salad, kimchi, and any of the other toppings you want.
  3. Korean Cucumber Salad:
  4. Whisk together all the ingredients for the salad in a medium bowl, except cucmbers, until mixed. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat with dressing. Set aside until ready to serve.
  5. Spicy Bulgogi Sauce:
  6. Add the garlic, ginger, and sesame oil to a medium saucepan and cook over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until browned. Whisk together the other ingredients for sauce in a small bowl and pour into pan. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.


*Kimchi is a very spicy, fermented Korean side dish that is served as a staple with almost every meal in their culture. It can be made at home or purchased at most grocery or health food stores in the exotic section.


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  1. says

    this sounds so good! i’m spoiled by the fact that i’m surrounded by lots of good korean food, so i rarely make it at home, but this is inspiring me! bulgogi is one of my favorite korean foods.. plus all the banchan/side dishes. the cucumber salad sounds very slightly spicy, aka perfect against all the other spicy components.

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