Korean Beef with Kimchi Rice

It’s not often that I suggest steak for dinner, mostly for cost purposes, but let’s face it, we all need a little something different at the table from time to time. After visiting a local restaurant for Korean BBQ recently, I remembered not only how much I absolutely love Korean BBQ, but also how much I love a good marinade. I was also reminded that slicing steak makes it so much more economical. When you slice it, you don’t have to buy a full steak per person and plop it down whole on a plate. Which means you can buy a more reasonable amount. Slicing is also good for marinading as it allows each piece to take on more flavor. Win, win I’d say!

Overhead view of Korean BBQ rib eye steak in a bowl of lettuce leaves with kimchi rice.

In this case, I opt for rib eye steak which I call for about 6 ounces per person. Most of the other ingredients in this recipe are either pantry staples – like soy sauce, rice vinegar or white rice – or inexpensive ingredients – like ginger, a fresh pear and a jar of prepared kimchi. So it feels like a good balance between stopping by the store and raiding the pantry.

What I love about marinades, is blending everything up in a food processor or Vitamix and then simply pouring over the meat. While all this goodness hangs out for a day or so, flavor gets infused while you go about life. Minimal effort = big results right here, folks!

Strips of rib eye steak marinading in Korean BBQ style ingredients.

PSA on the marinade – the longer the better as far as I am concerned. If you can do this the night before and give it a full 24 hours, that’s awesome. If not, eight hours is good too, and anything in between is a great compromise. Sure, it may seem daunting to have to plan 24 hours ahead, but the beauty is that after marinading, your meal will cook in just 30 minutes. Worth it!

When you eat Korean BBQ they bring all these little sides, and various accompaniments are served in little bowls or tossed on the grill along with the meat. It makes the meal super stimulating and interesting. To mimic this variety, I choose to sear shiitake mushrooms and onions in a cast iron before searing the meat. This takes just a few minutes, but adds texture and flavor to the final dish. Again, totally worth it!

Shiitake mushrooms and onions sautéing in a cast iron skillet.

And what’s Korean BBQ without a little kimchi! As a kid, I did not care for kimchi, or any of the other accompaniments much, but that’s ’cause I was far too focused on the meat, lettuce and sesame-salt “sauce”. Now, as an adult, I love all these flavor bombs. So, I bring in the flair of kimchi by stirring it into a pot of rice. Add your favorite variety, or experiment with something new, and add as much or as little as you like to suit your taste. Some kimchi’s are very spicy, so see what works for you.

Overhead view of Korean BBQ rib eye steak in a bowl of lettuce leaves with kimchi rice.

Of course, you can’t leave out the lettuce cups. While they may seem simple or plain, the lettuce leaves add crunch and freshness to the rich meat and spicy rice. These are not an after thought, they are the perfect compliment to balance out this bold meal. Pile it all up and enjoy!

Side view of Korean BBQ rib eye steak in a bowl of lettuce leaves with kimchi rice.


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Korean Beef in Lettuce Cups with Kimchi Rice

Korean Beef with Kimchi Rice

  • Author: Emily Wilson
  • Prep Time: 24 hours (Includes marinade time)
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Beef
  • Cuisine: Korean


An easy marinade full of bold Korean-BBQ-style flavors brings together a complete meal the whole family can enjoy.



For the marinade:

  • 1 1/2 pounds well-marbled rib eye steaks
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 Pear, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the rice:

  • 1 cup white rice, jasmine or sushi
  • 1/2 cup (approximately) prepared kimchi

For the sides:

  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems remove, caps sliced
  • 1 cooking onion, sliced
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce


  1. Place the rib eye in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Once chilled, it will be easier to slice thin.
  2. Place the marinade ingredients from the rice vinegar through to the ginger in a blender or food processor and blend until liquefied. Stir in the sesame seeds and green onion.
  3. Slice the rib eye steaks into thin slices and place in a glass dish. Pour the marinade over the meat, cover dish and refrigerate. Marinade for a minimum of 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.
  4. Start the rice about 20 minutes before you plan to sear your steak. Measure the rice and water into a medium saucepan according to the package instructions. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer, cover pot, and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. While the rice cooks, prepare the mushrooms and onions. Set a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the pan and oil are very hot, add the mushrooms and onions. Cook until everything is caramelized, stirring often. Transfer to a clean plate.
  6. Once rice is done cooking, remove from heat. Stir in the prepared kimchi. Add as much or as little to suit your taste. Season with salt to taste.
  7. To cook the meat, set the large cast iron skillet back over medium-high heat. You want a very hot pan so the meat cooks very quickly. You can also grill the meat if desired. Once the skillet is hot, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil. Then, lift the steak out of the marinade, shake off excess so there isn’t too much liquid in the pan and lay the pieces in the hot pan and sear quickly. Flip the pieces as soon as they are caramelized, about 2 minutes. Do not crowd the pan. Cook in batches if necessary. Once browned on both sides, transfer to plate with mushrooms and repeat with remaining meat.
  8. When the last batch of meat is just about done cooking, add back the mushrooms and steak and toss everything together. Prepare each dinner plate with a few leaves of Bibb lettuce. Top with kimchi rice and beef with mushrooms and onions. Finish with a sprinkle of extra sesame seeds and/or sliced green onion, if desired. Serve warm!

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