Korean Beef Bowls

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Beautiful Korean Beef Bowl

To keep my daily cooking anything but routine, I have found myself searching for and trying new recipes a few times a week.  I am so pleased that my weekly investigations led me to this Korean beef and cabbage bowl recipe.  I promise it is super quick and easy to make, and if you serve this over cooked basmati or brown rice, you’ll have yourself a meal that kids and adults will love.  If you are not a red meat eater, I bet you could use ground chicken or turkey  – but go for the dark meat so it doesn’t get too dry. You could also stretch this a bit with finely chopped mushrooms, using less meat. 

Korean food has a lot of familiar flavor profiles that you will see in this recipe.  Sesame oil, chili or pepper flakes (kochukaru), soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and scallions. It turns out that all of these spices and ingredients live in my kitchen 99% of the time, so this was a dish I was able to make at the last minute.  And, lucky me, there is a butcher right up the street who has amazing ground organic beef that was perfect for this dish.

The only warning I will give you is that making this in a hot cast iron skillet (best to avoid using a nonstick pan so you end up with crispy edges) produced crispy beef, however – the fat splatters everywhere.  That is not a deal-breaker for me – I just cleaned my stovetop (and floor!) when I was done cooking.  The smell lingers in my kitchen for a few hours and I love it.  I served my Korean beef with rice, but you could easily have some large iceberg lettuce cups if you prefer.  As a bonus, leftovers reheat beautifully.  

Korean Beef Bowls (adapted from The Splendid Table)

Makes 3-4 servings



  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves minced garlic (I chopped mine by hand)
  • 1 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger root
  • ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes (use more if you love spicy)
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup tamari sauce
  • 4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds to garnish the top

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for four minutes.  Add the oils and swirl around until they are very hot.  Add the ground beef and press it with a spatula into a thinner, even layer.  Let it cook without stirring or bothering it for five minutes so that the edges become dark brown and crispy. 

Add the garlic, ginger and hot pepper flakes and stir to break up the meat, and cook another three minutes until it is mostly cooked through.  

Sprinkle the top with the brown sugar and add the tamari sauce, stir and cook for another half minute.  Add the sliced cabbage, stir and cook a couple of minutes until the cabbage wilts a bit. 

Spoon into lettuce cups or over rice and garnish each serving with sesame seeds and sliced onions.

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