Gochujang Beef Bowls with Spicy Cucumber Salad
A weeknight-friendly recipe for Gochujang Beef Bowls with Spicy Cucumber Salad. This Korean-inspired recipe is slightly sweet, spicy, savory, and so delicious! We love serving it over a bowl of rice with a simple crunchy cucumber salad.
Talk about a 30-minute flavor explosion.
These Korean beef bowls are one of our new favorite weeknight dinners. It starts with a pound of lean ground beef, lots of chopped scallions, an abundance of garlic, and a few sauces and seasonings that we’ll combine in a measuring cup and pour it over the the stir fry beef. The hint of sesame oil, the sweetness from brown sugar, and the heat from the gochujang chili paste honestly make this one of the most delicious rice bowls. And if you’re watching your calories or low-carbing it, you can serve these as lettuce wraps with cucumber salad on the side.
I’ve made a ton of Korean-inspired dishes in the past, like my Korean BBQ sauce or my instant pot beef bowls; there are also my Korean BBQ bowls. And one thing that all of these recipes have in common is that they do require more prep time. However, they are absolutely delicious and something to try!
For this recipe, we skip the marinade entirely because the ground beef doesn’t really require time to break down. This tastes so incredibly delicious, and I hope you love it as much as we do!
Ingredients for gochujang beef bowls:
- Ground Beef: I like to use 95-96% lean ground beef. This way, you don’t need to drain any excess grease from the pan. If you have ground beef with a higher fat percentage, you can still use it. I suggest you drain it once the beef has rendered off the fat to avoid the recipe becoming too greasy.
- Green onions: these are also called scallions or spring onions. You’ll want to separate the whites from the greens. We’ll saute the white portion and cook them down, and use the green portion to garnish with at the end.
- Garlic: I like to press the garlic through a garlic press to ensure the flavor is evenly dispersed through the meat. Feel free to use minced garlic here.
- Brown sugar: Adds the much-needed sweetness to the recipe. It also helps balance out the heat from the tablespoons of gochujang paste. I should mention that you could swap the brown sugar for honey if you prefer.
- Low-sodium soy sauce: adds umami to the dish. It’s also our main source of sodium.
- Gochujang paste: this is readily available in most grocery stores these days. I found it in the international aisle. You can also purchase it online here.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: Adds a smokey flavor to the ground beef recipe.
- Grated Ginger (or ginger paste): Works beautifully in enhancing all the other flavors.
- Gochugaru: sun-dried peppers that have been coarsely ground into flakes similar to red pepper flakes.
- Rice Vinegar: adds the acidic touch this recipe needs. It balances out the sweet brown sugar, the spicy gochujang, and the salty soy sauce.
- White Pepper: adds a unique flavor.
- Jasmine Rice: to serve the gochujang beef with. You could also use brown rice, other carbohydrates or serve this in lettuce wraps if you prefer.
- Toasted sesame seeds: Add a little texture over the ground beef. I also use them in my cucumber salad.
- Vegetables: Onions, carrots, and cucumbers make the cucumber salad that I love serving with this recipe. You’ll also need many of the other ingredients listed above.
Making Korean beef bowls:
- Mix it all together. In a glass measuring cup, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, gochujang, sesame oil, ginger, gochugaru, rice vinegar, and white pepper. Whisk using a fork, and then set this aside for now.
- Saute the ground beef. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the protein and cook and crumble the beef until it’s almost done. Add the white portion of the green onions and the garlic and saute it until it’s fragrant and the green onions have had a chance to wilt down a bit.
- Simmer in the sauce. Then, whisk the sauce and pour it into the skillet. Lower the heat and allow it to sizzle and thicken until it just clings to the ground beef. Top with the green portion of the scallions and lots of sesame seeds.
- Serve this up. Serve the ground beef in bowls over jasmine rice with the cucumber salad.
FAQs about this recipe:
Besides serving it with the cucumber salad, I suggest adding red bell peppers to the ground beef mixture when you add the green onions. This will increase both the veggies and the vitamin C for this dish!
No, bulgogi beef is a different dish that uses a different cut of meat, such as flank steak, ribeye, or sirloin. It is typically marinated in a paste made with Asian pears and other ingredients and tossed on a grill.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Quick Sesame Gochujang Noodles
- Chili Crisp Salmon with Cucumber Sweet Pepper Salad
- Crazy Good Quick Garlic Noodles
- Sesame Ginger Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry
- Sizzling Jalapeno Chicken
- 1 pound lean ground beef (95-96% lean)
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced (whites and greens separated)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1-2 tablespoon Gochujang paste
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons ginger paste
- ½ teaspoon gochugaru (or red pepper flakes)
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- Prepared jasmine rice, for serving
- Prepared cucumber salad, for serving (see notes)
- COMBINE: In a glass measuring cup, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, gochujang, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, and white pepper. Whisk with a fork and set aside for now.
- SAUTE: Heat a 12-inch wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, cook and crumble the meat for 4-5 minutes or until the meat is no longer visibly raw. Add the white parts of the scallions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until the scallions start to soften.
- SIMMER: Lower the heat to low, pour the sauce over the ground beef, stir to combine. Let the mixture simmer for 4-6 minutes or until the sauce thickens and clings to the ground beef. Remove from heat. Top with the green portion of the scallions or sesame seeds.
- SERVE: Serve in bowls over prepared jasmine rice with the cucumber salad (see notes.)
- Spicy Cucumber Salad: Toss 5 sliced Persian cucumbers with ¼ thinly sliced white onion and 1 carrot cut into matchsticks in a sieve over a bowl with ½ teaspoon salt. Let sit 5 minutes. Drain liquid from the bowl and transfer the veggies to the bowl. Add 1 clove minced garlic, 2 thinly sliced scallions, 2 tsp of gochugaru, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon gochujang, 2 tsp of toasted sesame oil, and 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds. Taste and adjust with a big pinch of salt or sugar or other ingredients as desired.
Serving Size:1/4th recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 17gCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 34g
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