Add Brown Sugar To Your Beef Bulgogi Marinade For A Richer Flavor

A plate of beef bulgogi
A plate of beef bulgogi - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Is there anything more satisfying than biting into tender, juicy beef soaked in gorgeous, complex flavors? If your answer is no, beef bulgogi is the dish to try. This Korean classic is made by marinating beef slices and then grilling them. The true make-or-break lies in the marinade, which is often a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, Asian pear, aromatics, and spices. Sometimes sugar is added for a touch of sweetness, but if you really want to take things up a notch, brown sugar is the way to go.

What's so special about brown sugar? It's more than just the usual sweetness we've come to expect from sugar. There's also a caramelized and slightly toasted undertone — a toffee reminiscence that works surprisingly well in grilled meat. Rather than contrasting or throwing everything off-balance, it seamlessly dances to the savory, umami harmony of the marinade. This additional depth gives your beef bulgogi an exquisite richness, all without drastically changing the original flavor profile.

The flavor boost isn't all brown sugar has to offer, either. It's an excellent meat tenderizer, so no matter what cut you use, there's no need to worry about a tough, chewy bite. On the outside, it gives the meat a subtle crust. It's just a smidgen, but it's enough to make your beef bulgogi memorable.

Read more: Your Guide To The Different Cuts Of Steak

You Only Need A Few Tablespoons Of Brown Sugar

A spoonful of brown sugar
A spoonful of brown sugar - Fotografiabasica/Getty Images

The brown sugar, of course, can be mixed straight into the marinade. The amount largely depends on your personal preference, as well as the original recipe. To be safe, start with one or two tablespoons and adjust as you taste it. Once you've got the marinade, just rub it all over the meat slices, cover the bowl, and marinate for at least half an hour.

The other ingredients can remain the same; nothing has to change. If you'd like to further emphasize the sweetness, add a splash of mirin. Want a kick of heat instead? Crushed red pepper flakes or gochujang are marvelous choices. For a textural boost along with a nutty touch, toasted sesame seeds are your friend.

As a dish, beef bulgogi is incredibly versatile. Pair it with white rice and your preferred vegetables for a delicious, nutritious rice bowl. Together, they make a foolproof main course for any casual weeknight dinner, but would also excel in a larger setting. Swap rice out for japchae if you want something slightly more chewy and flavorful. Keeping things light and fresh, you can turn bulgogi into the filling for your lettuce wraps, perhaps with other Korean staples like kimchi and pickled yellow radish. Better yet, get a little creative and make bulgogi tacos for a fusion dish that promises nothing but greatness.

Read the original article on Tasting Table