How to Make Bulgogi Sauce

This recipe is for another one of the 'mother' sauces we use often at Chan. It's quite versatile and is traditionally used for beef.

A typical preparation in Korea is Bulgogi Kalbi - which is roughly translated from Korean to English as Bul = fire, gogi = meat, kalbi = rib. And many people in Korea call the bulgogi sauce Kalbi sauce since it's so often used for ribs. It is never eaten "as-is" and it must be cooked to be enjoyed.

A Brief History of Bulgogi

For centuries, bulgogi has been considered the cuisine of the Royal's in Korea. Only wealthy people were able to afford beef and since bulgogi sauce typically goes better with beef - that meant it was reserved for their consumption. The sauce itself originated in Seoul which was the where the Royal family and King lived.

Back in the day, the sauce was much sweeter than it is generally presented today which is a bit spicier. It's terrific for marinating thin-cut short ribs (traditionally a Southern preparation) though in the Northern part of Korea they generally use sirloin where it's cut a bit thicker. At Chan Seattle, we go with the Southern-style as it goes better with rice and because it's easier to mix.

Preparation of Chan Seattle's Bulgogi sauce

At Chan Seattle we do a fairly traditional preparation of bulgogi sauce but with a few tweaks. One is using Coca-Cola in our sauce to help tenderize the meat and bring some acidity to the dish. In Korea, we typically use kiwi or Asian pair for the a similar effect. In addition, the black pepper and soy bring out the umami flavors in the meat. We also use honey to give the meat a bit of a shine and keep it from having a dull color.


  • 1 c - Soy sauce

  • 1/2 can - Coca-Cola

  • 3/4 c - Sugar

  • 1/2 Onion - Chopped

  • 12 cloves - Garlic, peeled

  • 3 T - Honey

  • 1 T - Ground black pepper

  • 1/3 c - Sesame oil

Ingredients clockwise from top left: Garlic, Onion, Sesame Oil, Sugar, Black Pepper, Soy, Honey

To prepare:

  1. Add all ingredients to blender

2. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds

3. Pour into storage container for future use

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Bulgogi Sauce

This sauce is terrific for a slow braise using bone in, three pounds of beef short ribs cut 3" wide in a Dutch oven.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Brown the short ribs over medium high heat in the Dutch oven with a tablespoon of oil. Reserve the short ribs on a plate.

  2. Add a one onion and two carrots - diced and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent - about 5 minutes. Reserve in a bowl.

  3. Deglaze the pan with sake

  4. Place short ribs, carrots and onion back in the Dutch oven and fill half way up with bulgogi sauce

  5. Cook for 3 hours at 300 degrees Fahrenheit

  6. Drop in 2 dried Thai chilis prior to service (if you want a bit of a kick!)

This dish is typically served with steamed rice. Serves 4-6.

#chanseattle #koreanrecipe #seattle #koreanrestaurantseattle #koreanfood #marinade #pikeplacemarket #recipe #koreancuisine #heongsoonpark

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