Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mini-Lesson: Korean BBQ Beef Flank Steak - Delicious Make Ahead

For JY who asked all the right questions.

I really like to remind my readers that sometimes a bit of planning ahead makes for a much easier meal a few nights later. I've said it before, that having pre-marinated meat frozen makes cooking on more than a few nights easier. I thought I'd focus on the beef flank steak recipe, only because it is so good, easier than kalbi and bulgogi (in terms of marination and cooking) and can easily be made in bulk for a BBQ or a party, as I did for my son's birthday. After you cook it, it is easily cut into small chunks that can go in bibimbap or you can serve it with steamed cabbage or lettuce as you would bulgogi.

My marinade is pretty traditional, with no sriracha, kiwi or pear - I think the marinade does a great enough job on its own. In Korea they do put in grated pear in a lot of the marinades these days, but I find the fruit additions overly tenderize the meat, and husband really hates mushy meat.

Marinade (for about 3-4lbs of meat - use on bulgogi, kalbi or flank steak) easily doubled

3-4 lbs flank steak (I usually buy a package of two flanks at Costco - which is between 3-4.5 lbs this is enough marinade for that.)

1/2 cup soy
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup sake
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (or more if you like it more garlicky)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper

1 bunch of scallions, washed and rinsed well. (This will be simply added in between the beef later for the final layer of flavor. I used to chop scallions into the marinade, but would end up with too many charred bits of scallion which just wasn't that appetizing. If you have no scallion, feel free to throw in some white onion wedges in with the beef after marinating.)

Set aside scallions and meat. Mix everything else together in a large bowl (marinade ingredients.)

Quickly rinse the meat (this is a Korean thing as my mother always insist that it all needs to be rinsed JUST IN CASE...of what I'm unclear - I do believe in rinsing kalbi for sure because shards of bone often end up on the meat and washing that away is a good thing.)

Lay the flank down on a cutting board. It is a pretty wide flap of meat, and it will be hard to maneuver on the bbq in this form.

Cut in half ALONG the grain - down the center.

TA-DA! Two halves.

Dunk each piece of steak into the marinade, making sure to submerge it and coat all sides of it. (I wear a disposable glove because sesame oil and soy sauce makes your hand smell forever.)

Remove from marinade and place into storage container.

Layer in green onions as you place in the flank. Continue until all flank is marinated. Pour remaining marinade on top.

Marinate at least 8 hours or overnight if possible. I personally have found that a 24 hour soak yields the best flavor. If you are planning to freeze, you can allow it to soak and then portion off what you want into ziploc bags OR immediately put into bags and freeze. Try and put a bit of marinade into each bag when freezing. I generally freeze after I've cooked a batch 0nly because people eat more than I expect them to - and I always end up freezing less than I would have.

You can grill it in the bbq (our family favorite) or broil it in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, depending on your preference for rare, medium or well.

Printable recipe


liz said...

hmmmm...sake? interesting...i'll have to try it with that. thanks!!!

hudson umma said...

thanks for posting this! LOVE all your stuff! my family thanks you!

Jacqueline Renee said...

You need one of these!

I have one, and it is amazing, it really does work...

bella said...

Joanne :)...this looks so yummy. I never thought to use flank steak for this kind of marinade...but it looks so yummy I can't wait to try it. When I make bulgogi, I usually use tri tip steak and just cut it up. I've used flank steak only when i make my guks like moo guk or yukeajang. thanks for sharing...i can't wait to try it! hey, guess what? i started blogging! its so fun...check out my site at
hope all is well!

Anonymous said...

Another variant. Cut the steak in two and put it in the freezer until it gets stiff. Pull it out and slice, on the bias, very thin. Now put it in the marinade. You'll need some sort of grill insert that keeps the meet from falling through. It cooks very fast, and the thin slices absorb even more of the marinade.

RecipeGirl said...

Looks great... I'm in charge of making flank steak for a bunch of relatives at our mountain cabin this next week & I think I'm gonna try this recipe out. Thanks!!

Mama Coyote said...

Wow. WOW! I have to try this!


Joanne Choi said...

Thanks for all the comments! I'm hoping that everyone has a great experience with the flank steak. It is my go-to recipe for any gathering and I still get lots of rave reviews. Good luck cooking everyone!

gaga said...

Mmm, I love that korean marinade on all sorts of meats. I like how you went with flank instead of the typical short ribs. Looks great!

sookyung said...

This is a great recipe and so good. I always found flank meat to be tough and dry but with this marinade it was so tender and delicious!

Anne said...

I finally found a fabulous Korean beef marinade! THANK YOU!!! This was SOOOOO good!

ohmobile said...

will this work just as well on tri-tip? I've got a lot of that and hoping that the results will be just as good. whaddya think?

Joanne Choi said...

I think tri-tip would work as well. Dry it after taking it out of the marinade, and then get a good sear on it over higher heat and then reduce heat to cook it a bit more. The thing with tri-tip is that it is meant to be eaten rarer than other cuts, so keep that in mind when cooking it.

vietfoodrecipes said...

It looks good. I'm glad the summer is almost here to try all these BBQ recipes. Tasty!

Anonymous said...

What if i have no sake? Can i use a substitute or can i leave it out entirely?

Annie said...

First of all, THANK YOU for all your recipes. I don't know what I would do without you. :P
Second, how do you cut this meat when serving? I made it once and the taste was awesome but I cut it all wrong. It was tough to chew and my kids (1 and 3) wouldn't eat it but lick it. LOL. Thanks!!!

Joanne Choi said...

Anonymous - if you don't have sake, just leave it out.

Annie - sounds like you are not cutting across the grain. You want the long strips of meat to basically be sliced up - so don't cut the same way as the long part of the meat, but instead cut vertically. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanne,

When rinsing off galbi, do you do it in a bowl and then just pour out the water in the sink and then just scrub the sink? New to cooking so just trying find out the best way to clean without contaminating kitchen. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Can u use this marinade on an uncut rib eye steak?
Do you have any suggestions on cooking steaks? Recipes?

Joanne Choi said...

for rinsing off....I just run it under the tap in the sink. It stays in the sink and as long as I'm not doing any wild splashing, I think risk of spraining meat water everywhere is very low.

Steak recipes! my favorite - rub a ribeye with olive oil salt and pepper. Allow to come to up a bit to room temp (about 20 minutes) and then grill. :)

Not sure how this would taste on ribeye, but as long as you could get the meat to cook without burning it, it's probably tasty. Problem with this marinade is that it does have a sugar content which leads to potential burning.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your advice and you are awesome! When you say you run it over a sink, so you wash each piece one by one from its packaging and then transfer to bowl? Just curious if you use a disinfectant for the sink afterwards? Sorry I am sort of a germ freak:/ USDA recommends not washing meat due to higher risk of cross contamination but my Korean mother recommends cleaning galbi also.

lyun said...

This recipe looks delicious! I was wondering... is there anything that I can use to substitute the Sake? I have all these ingredients except the Sake. Is it a crucial ingredient that this recipe cannot do without? Thank you!

Joanne Choi said...

Lyun - go ahead and omit the sake. It's a wonderful backnote but you don't have to have it.

Jess said...

Would it work with rice wine instead of sake?

jeana said...

I'm a fan of your recipes and so is my happy, well-fed family. The recipe was perfect for a large family dinner party. SUPER YUMMY!! Everyone raved. ;)

Lisa p said...

This is so good and easy! any suggestions as to what we can use the remainder of the yummy flank steak for? (We did the korean tacos tonight- family gobbled it up!)


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