Authentic Korean Bulgogi (Paleo, Whole30, Keto)
Tender, umami-rich Paleo and Whole30 friendly, this Authentic Korean Beef bulgogi is beautifully marinated for that savory succulent bite. With a few simple ingredients, you’ll be enjoying this gluten- and soy-free Korean barbecue in no time. Pair it with some Napa cabbage kimchi and Korean spinach, and you’ll have a tasty and delicious dinner that is better than takeout!
This Korean bulgogi recipe tastes exactly like the one my mom made growing up, but without any of the refined sugar, soy, or gluten. The mouthwatering combination of coconut aminos, toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, and rice vinegar yields a rich and flavorful marinade that is perfect for beef, chicken, fish, or sprouted tofu!
Why Grass-Fed Beef is So Good For You!
Let’s first talk about why I prefer grass-fed beef over grass-finished and industrial beef. In their natural habitat, cows eat grass and small amounts of grain when the grass is seeding . This provides the cow all the nutrients it needs to healthy, and we want to eat healthy animals. When cow are fed a lot of grain, like in industrial beef, the food source is not the natural source of food for the cows and it lacks the nutrients the cow needs to stay healthy, thus creating a less nutritious beef.
Additionally, because grass-fed cows are eating what they are supposed to be eating, the beef they produce is the most nutrient dense and has the omega-3’s that are supposed to naturally be in the beef. Due to the lack of nutrients in industrial beef, it does not contain the omega-3’s thus creating a nutrient deficient beef.
Grass-fed beef is not necessarily the same as grass-finished beef, so make sure you ask your butcher or the farm you source your beef from to clarify. Ideally you want beef sourced from an animal that grazed on grass its entire life, however there are farms that grain-feed most of the life and then “finish” on grass, or even grass feed most of the life and “grain-finish” to fatten the animal up in the last few months. As mentioned before, 100% grass-fed beef is the most nutrient dense beef and is my preferred choice when eating ground beef, steak, or using bones for broth.
Grass-fed beef is loaded with nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.
- Protein is an essential nutrient and beef is a complete source of all essential amino acids you need. Amino acids are the building blocks to the proteins in your body, including collagen, and they are necessary in cellular health and repair.
- Over one third of the fat found in beef is oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat that is also found in avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil. Oleic acid supports brain and nervous system function and support healthy blood sugar regulation .
- Vitamins: B3 (niacin: support healthy blood fat levels and blood sugars ), B6 (supports a healthy immune system), B12 (essential vitamin necessary in red blood cell formation.)
- Iron: Heme iron that is easily absorbed and is necessary in the formation of hemoglobin.
- Phosphorus: Supports healthy teeth and bones, muscle recovery after working out, and detoxification.
- Selenium: Supports thyroid health  and supports your immune system.
- Zinc: Essential in digestion, thyroid health, and a healthy immune system.
So grab some 100% grass-fed beef and let’s get cooking!
Authentic Korean Bulgogi Ingredients
2lbs Thin Sliced Beef*
½ cup Cool Filtered Water
½ cup Coconut Aminos
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1.5 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Pure Sesame Seed Oil
1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup **(opt)
2-3 Green Onions, julienned
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
½ tsp Fine Real Salt*
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
*I like to buy a beef tenderloin for this, but I have also used ribeye and flank steak as well.
**Omit for Whole30
How to Make Authentic Korean Bulgogi
1. If slicing your own beef, freeze it for about 1-hour. Using a sharp knife, slice the beef into 1/16″-1/8″ thick slices against the grain.
2. In a large bowl, make add all the remaining ingredients for the marinade, stir to mix and add the sliced beef. Make sure each piece is separated and coated with the marinade.
3. Gently press the beef down into marinade to submerge, cover with a lid or saran wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours flipping halfway though.
4. In a large skillet over high heat, cook the bulgogi in batches, do not overcrowd the pan.
5. Sear the first side of the bulgogi (don’t flip) for 3-5 mins to let it get a nice sear and slightly caramelize.
6. Flip the beef over with tongs and cook until the marinade has evaporated and the bulgogi has a nice caramelization.
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Q: Why is my bulgogi not getting a nice caramelization on it?
A: It sounds like you need to turn the heat up. Bulgogi cooks very quickly so you want to use a high heat to get a nice sear and that tasty caramelization on it.
Q: How long is too long to marinate bulgogi?
A: I recommend not going over 48-hours when marinating your bulgogi and be sure to flip it around a time or two to evenly marinate all the beef.
Q: Can I freeze marinated bulgogi?
A: Yes, you can meal prep and freeze a portion of the raw, marinated bulgogi for a future dinner.
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I am a holistic nutritionist with an auto-immune disorder, a love of cooking, and a passion for holistic health.
Sharing what I make and eat with all of you…in hopes that you find inspiration here to fuel your body and feel your best with nutrient dense whole foods and clean eating.