This easy Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi recipe is made with thin slices of pork belly marinated and cooked in a sweet gochujang sauce. It has that classic flavor and can be served with a side of rice, wrapped in lettuce, or even used in tacos!
Table of Contents
- What is Pork Bulgogi?
- Why You’ll Love This Pork Bulgogi Recipe
- Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Pork Bulgogi
- How to Make Pork Bulgogi (Step by Step)
- Joyce’s Tips For Making the Best Pork Bulgogi
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Variation Ideas for Pork Bulgogi
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Store Leftover Pork Bulgogi
- More Korean Recipes You May Like
- Did You Make This Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi Recipe?
- Recipe Card
Pork bulgogi is the pork version of Korea’s most well-known dish. This dish is made with thin slices of pork marinated in a homemade Korean gochujang sauce and then grilled to perfection! Interestingly, bulgogi literally stands for ‘fire meat.'
That being said, for this spicy pork belly bulgogi recipe we will be pan frying it instead to keep it simple, but you definitely can use it for your Korean BBQ parties at home as well!
This Korean spicy pork bulgogi is loaded with spicy and savory flavors from the gochujang paste and fish sauce but also has a balance of sweet in it as well from the mirin and the sugars. It's intense in flavor from the garlic, ginger, and onion marinade and is absolutely delicious on top of some plain white rice to mop up that salty umami sauce.
Read on to learn exactly how to make this delicious spicy pork bulgogi recipe today!
What is Pork Bulgogi?
Pork Bulgogi, also known as Jeyuk Bokkeum or Dwaeji Bulgogi, is a popular Korean dish that translates to "fire meat". The recipe revolves around tender slices of marinated pork shoulder or pork belly, stir-fried (or grilled) to perfection.
The marinade is a delicious combination of ingredients such as soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, gochujang (Korean red chili paste), sesame oil, and black pepper, offering a balance of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors.
Each bite is packed with flavor, with the spicy marinade beautifully complimenting the tender pork. It pairs well with a bowl of warm rice and a variety of banchan (Korean side dishes), making for a hearty, satisfying meal. Trust me, you’re going to love this Korean spicy pork belly dish!
Why You’ll Love This Pork Bulgogi Recipe
Easy to Make: This spicy pork bulgogi recipe is simple and straightforward. With the help of a food processor, you can create a flavorful marinade in minutes.
Classic Korean Flavors: The rich, spicy marinade is the secret to the mouth-watering flavor of this dish. The gochujang, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce blend together to create a marinade that infuses every slice of pork with an unforgettable taste.
Versatile: This dish is incredibly versatile. You can serve these delicious pork slices with a side of rice, wrap them in lettuce for a low-carb option, or even use them as a filling for tacos.
Crowd Pleaser and Great For Korean BBQ at Home: Whether you're hosting a Korean BBQ party at home or hosting a casual get-together, this spicy pork bulgogi is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. It is a dish that's not only packed with flavor, but also looks impressive served up in a large bowl, garnished with green onions and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Pork Bulgogi
All you need are some incredibly simple, pantry-staple ingredients to make this delicious pork bulgogi recipe at home.
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- Pork Belly (or Pork Shoulder/Pork Butt): I like to use pork belly for this pork belly bulgogi recipe because it gives it a hearty, satisfying texture. It is important to note that you can use either pork belly, shoulder, or butt for this recipe.
- Green Onions: They add a refreshing, slightly onion flavor to the dish. Green onions are used both for the marinade and as a garnish, giving the dish a pop of color.
- Garlic: A key ingredient in the marinade, it provides a strong, aromatic garlic flavor that infuses the pork.
- Ginger: This adds a spicy, pungent, and slightly ginger flavor that pairs well with the garlic and compliments the pork.
- Onion: It adds sweetness and depth to the marinade, enhancing the overall flavor of the dish.
- Gochujang: This Korean hot pepper paste is what gives our spicy pork bulgogi its unique spicy, sweet, and savory flavor. There is no good substitute for this ingredient. So if it's possible, try to find this at a Korean/Asian grocery store or online since it is the main flavor for this dish. It also keeps very well in the fridge - just make sure that once you open it, seal it back up very well so that it doesn't dry out. (I like to use plastic wrap under the lid with an elastic, and then put the plastic lid back on top)
- Soy Sauce/Fish Sauce: This adds a salty, umami flavor that balances the sweetness in the marinade. I personally like to use fish sauce, but soy sauce also works as well.
- Honey: This sweetens the marinade, balancing out the heat from the gochujang and gochugaru. You can also substitute it with sugar.
- Sesame Oil: It adds a nutty, rich flavor to the bulgogi marinade.
- Mirin Cooking Wine: This sweet Japanese rice wine adds a subtle sweetness and depth to the marinade. If you can't find mirin, you can substitute it with dry sherry or sake mixed with a little sugar.
- Water: It helps to thin out the marinade, making it easier to coat the pork slices.
- Gochugaru (Korean Red Chili Pepper Flakes): Optional for those who like it extra spicy. If you can't find gochugaru, you can substitute it with cayenne pepper but use only half the amount to avoid making the dish too spicy.
How to Make Pork Bulgogi (Step by Step)
Making this incredible pork bulgogi recipe at home is super easy and will give you great results every single time. Here's how to make it step by step:
Prepare the Green Onions: Start by removing the root end of the green onions and cut them into chunks of about an inch and a half. Make sure you include the white part of the onions. For the thicker white ends, slice them lengthwise so they match the thickness of the greens.
Thinly Slice the Pork: If your pork belly comes with skin, cut it off and discard it because it tends to be chewy and tough. To make slicing easier, freeze the pork belly for an hour. If you're using a larger cut like a pork shoulder, you might need to freeze it for a longer. Take the pork belly out of the freezer and slice it thinly, aiming for about an eighth of an inch or thinner.
Marinating the Pork
Prepare the Bulgogi Marinade: Start by peeling the garlic, slicing the ginger, and chopping the onion into one-inch cubes. Blend these ingredients in a food processor until you get a paste. If you don't have a food processor, you can grate them by hand. Put the blended paste into a large mixing bowl.
Add the Marinade Ingredients: Combine the gochujang, fish sauce (or soy sauce), honey (or sugar), sesame oil, mirin, water and gochugaru with the garlic, ginger, and onion paste in the large bowl. Mix everything together to create a flavorful marinade.
Marinate the Pork: Add the pork slices to the marinade and make sure that they're well coated. Allow the meat to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer you let it marinade, the more flavor it will absorb.
Cooking the Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi
Heat the Pan: Set your stove to high heat and place a non-stick frying pan or high-walled pot on it. Add a bit of oil to the pan.
Pan Fry the Pork: Once the oil is hot, add the marinated pork belly to the pan, including any leftover marinade, which will serve as the sauce. Be careful as the pork belly might splatter. Pan fry the meat on high heat for about eight to eleven minutes.
Add the Green Onions: After the pork belly is cooked, turn off the heat and add the green onions. Stir them in so the residual heat wilts them. Be careful not to overcook the green onions. Enjoy your spicy pork bulgogi!
Joyce’s Tips For Making the Best Pork Bulgogi
Choose the Right Cut of Pork: This Korean pork belly recipe works best with pork belly, but you can also use pork shoulder or pork butt. These cuts of pork have a good amount of fat that adds flavor and keeps the meat tender during cooking.
Gochugaru Substitutions: If you can't find gochugaru (Korean Chili Flakes), you can substitute it with cayenne pepper but half the amount. Remember, you can also reduce the amount if you don't want your spicy pork bulgogi to be too spicy.
Substitute Mirin if Necessary: If you can't find Mirin, a sweet cooking wine, you can substitute it by mixing either dry sherry or sake with a teaspoon of sugar. It is not an exact match, but it will do in a pinch.
Cook on High Heat: Pan fry the marinated pork on high heat for about eight to eleven minutes. This will help to sear the meat and lock in the flavors. Be careful though, pork belly can splatter quite a bit.
Slice the Pork Belly Thin: Keep the pork belly in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour. This will firm up the meat and make it a lot easier to slice the meat thinly. If your pork belly comes with skin, remove the skin before freezing it because the skin is chewy.
Marinate Longer For Better Flavor - If you have time, let the pork slices marinade overnight in an airtight container. This allows the flavors to penetrate deeply into the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and aromatic spicy pork bulgogi.
This delicious spicy Korean pork bulgogi goes well on its own or with some rice. Here are some tasty serving suggestions I like to use.
- Lettuce Wraps: If you're feeling a bit fancy or you have guests, you can also enjoy this as a lettuce wrap as well! I like to use green leaf lettuce, and sometimes with a perilla leaf as the wrap. Once you have the lettuce laid out, you can add a bit of steamed rice, green onions and a piece of Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi and wrap it and then eat it!
- Add It To Tacos: This spicy Korean pork also goes well in tacos! If you're having a taco night, use this as the protein instead and top it with your usual taco toppings! (I like to add lime pickled red onions, sour cream and a bit of cheese)
- Rice Dishes: Serve pork bulgogi with some delicious rice dish. Plain white rice works, but I recommend going with some kimchi fried rice, egg fried rice, vermicelli rice, or some cumin beef rice to take things to the next level!
- Noodles: You can even enjoy this delicious spicy Korean pork dish with some tasty noodles on the side. Some great options include Japchae (Korean glass noodles stir fry), Tteokbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes), or some stir-fried kimchi rice cakes.
- Salad: A great salad I recommend trying this Korean pork belly with is some Korean cucumber salad (Oi Muchim). The flavors are absolutely delicious and work really well with this bulgogi pork belly dish!
- Korean BBQ at Home - I LOVE to use this for Korean BBQ when I make it at home. It's easy to put together and a very fun and delicious recipe to grill.
Recipe Variation Ideas for Pork Bulgogi
This delicious pork bulgogi recipe (jejuk bokkeum) is so flavorful and easy to make, you'll want to try out some of these delicious variations! Here are some great ideas:
Use A Different Protein: This Korean spicy pork recipe also works well with thin slices of chicken, beef or lamb!
Stir-fry with More Veggies: Add some extra vegetables to this Korean pork belly recipe by stir-frying the marinated pork with vegetables like bell peppers and onions in a large skillet. This variation adds a delightful crunch and makes your spicy pork bulgogi a complete meal in itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! While pork belly adds a specific flavor and texture to the spicy pork bulgogi, you can also use pork shoulder or pork butt. These cuts of pork also work well with the marinade and will give you a delicious result.
If you can't find gochugaru, you can substitute it with cayenne pepper but only use half the amount. If you want your spicy pork bulgogi to be less spicy, you can either omit the chili flakes or use half the suggested amount.
Mirin is a sweet cooking wine used in many Asian recipes. If you can't find it, you can substitute it by mixing either dry sherry or sake with a teaspoon of sugar. This will give you a similar sweet flavor.
For the best results, try to slice the pork approximately to a thickness of an eighth of an inch or thinner. Freezing the pork belly for about an hour before slicing can make this process easier.
The pork should be marinated in the fridge for a minimum of one hour. However, the longer you marinate it, the more flavorful your spicy pork bulgogi will be.
How to Store Leftover Pork Bulgogi
To store leftover pork bulgogi in the fridge, first, let it cool down. You don't want to put hot food directly in the fridge. Once cooled, transfer the leftover pork bulgogi into an airtight container. It should keep well in the fridge for up to three days.
Reheating is easy, too. You can heat it in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to make sure that it heats evenly. Alternatively, you can microwave it, but be sure to cover the bowl to prevent any splatter.
If you've made a large batch and want to freeze some of your pork bulgogi for later, you can! Once cooled, place the pork slices in a freezer-safe airtight container or a ziploc bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. To thaw, transfer the frozen bulgogi to the fridge and let it thaw overnight.
When you're ready to eat, simply heat it up in a skillet or in the microwave, just like you would with refrigerated leftovers.
More Korean Recipes You May Like
- Korean Corn Cheese
- Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae / Chapchae)
- Spicy Soondubu Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)
- Stir-Fried Kimchi Rice Cakes
- Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)
- Tuna Mayo Deopbap (Korean Tuna Rice Bowl)
- Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)
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Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi
Joyce's Recipe Notes
- I like to use pork belly for this recipe, but this recipe also works with pork shoulder or pork butt as well.
- If you can't find gochugaru (Korean Chili Flakes), you substitute it with cayenne pepper but in half the amount. You can also omit or use half the amount if you don't want your spicy Korean pork bulgogi to be too spicy.
- Mirin is slightly different than Chinese cooking wine because it is sweet in flavor so it cannot be substituted with Chinese cooking wine. If you cannot find Mirin at your Asian grocery store, you can substitute it by mixing either dry sherry or sake with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- 1 ½ lb 650g pork belly (or pork shoulder/pork butt)
- 3 stalks green onions (cut into 1 ½ inch chunks, including the whites)
- 2 tablespoons garlic (grated, approximately 5-6 cloves)
- 1 ½ tablespoon ginger (grated, approximately 1 inch of ginger)
- 1 medium onion
- 3 ½ tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce (or ½ tablespoons fish sauce)
- 2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons mirin cooking wine
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes) (Optional, if you like it spicy)
- Remove the root end of the green onion and cut them into 1 ½ inch long chunks (including the whites of the green onions). Slice the thicker, white ends lengthwise again so that it is the same thickness as the greens.
- If your pork belly comes with skin, remove the skin and discard it.
- Freeze the pork belly for 1 hour. This will make it easier to slice thinly. If you are using a larger cut of meat like a pork shoulder, you may need to freeze it for a longer period of time.
Marinate the Pork Belly
- Peel the garlic, slice the ginger, and dice the onion into 1-inch cubes.
- In a food processor, blend the garlic, ginger, and onion together into a paste. (You can also grate it by hand if you don't have a food processor.) Place the blended garlic, ginger, and onion in a large bowl.
- Add 3 ½ tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), 1 tablespoons soy sauce (or fish sauce), 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons mirin cooking wine, 3 tablespoons water, and 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes) into the bowl with the blended garlic, ginger, and onion and mix everything together.
- Remove the pork belly from the freezer and thinly slice it. I like to slice it approximately ⅛ inch or thinner.
- Add the pork belly into the marinade and mix everything well. Marinade it in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour (the longer you marinade it, the more flavorful it will be).
Cooking the Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi
- Set the stove on high heat and set a non-stick frying pan or a high walled pot (to prevent splatter) on the stove and add a bit of oil into it.
- Once the oil is hot, add the pork belly in the pan (including any extra marinade, this will be the sauce)
- Pan fry on high heat for 8-11 minutes. Pork belly splatters quite a bit, so be careful or wear an apron to prevent staining on your clothes.
- Once the pork belly is cooked, turn off heat, add green onions and mix the onions around to let the heat wilt it.
3 Different Ways to Serve This
- The quickest way to enjoy this is to serve it with white rice.
- You can also share this and have it as lettuce wraps! Set out a pile of green leaf lettuce (or perilla leaves), with steamed white rice. To eat it, you can add a bit of rice, green onions, and a piece of Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi to the lettuce, wrap it, and eat it!
- This spicy Korean pork also goes well in tacos! If you're having a taco night, use this as the protein instead and top it with your usual taco toppings! (I like to add lime juice-pickled red onions, sour cream, and a bit of cheese)
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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