I combine recipes like it's my job. (And hey...if you keep visiting this website regularly, maybe it will become my job.) Beef bulgogi and meatloaf are probably not two dishes you'd immediately think of as going together, but it worked. And it was delicious.
The other night I made lasagna and I forgot to add the ground beef, so I had a pound of ground beef thawed in the fridge and didn't know what to do with it. I consulted my trusty culinary brainstorm buddy Rachel and one of her ideas was meatloaf. I had never made meatloaf before, so I figured I may as well learn that skill. I was also craving something sweet and bright, and bulgogi fit that bill.
Bulgogi is a Korean BBQ dish usually made with thinly sliced beef that is grilled or pan fried. The key to bulgogi is the delicious marinade for the meat, which is a delightful mix of savory, sweet, and fruity.
Meatloaf is found in many different cuisines around the world in various forms, most notably in the Americas and Europe according to Wikipedia. My main experiences with meatloaf have been in a Minnesotan style, which is traditionally "glazed" with ketchup and probably involves cream of mushroom soup.
So, I set out to combine these concepts and make a bulgogi-glazed meatloaf.
TLDR: See the whole process in 30 seconds down below.
Per usual, I based this on a few different recipes:
I adapted my meatloaf from Ina Garten's adaptation of meatloaf from a restaurant called 1770 House.
I used the bulgogi marinade from Sue at My Korean Kitchen.
I have included a picture here, but please know that I am not yet a gifted food photographer and meatloaf may be the least photogenic food that exists. It tasted sensational even though it looks...questionable.
Here's how to make it:
-1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
1. Start with the bulgogi marinade, which I made following My Korean Kitchen's recipe exactly, using an apple because I didn't have an Asian pear (her recommended substitution). The marinade includes soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine or mirin, Asian pear or apple, onion, garlic, ginger, and black pepper. For the precise measurements, visit her site! Bonus: check out my post on how to always have fresh ginger at the ready here.
2. Next I turned to Ina Garten's meatloaf recipe. Hers called for 3 lbs of meat, which was way more than we would be able to eat and was also way more meat than I had thawed, so I modified the recipe to be smaller and adjusted some of the seasonings to complement the bulgogi sauce.
3. Chop one small red onion (any type of onion would be fine though), one stalk of celery, and 3 cloves of garlic. You want the pieces to be pretty small, so aim for about 1 cm. I sautéed these in olive oil along with two tablespoons of minced fresh ginger until everything was softened, deglazing periodically with chicken stock.
4. Once softened, let the vegetables cool while you make the meat mixture.
5. Beat one egg into 1/4 cup whole milk. Add 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Mix in about a quarter of the bulgogi marinade. (Let's be real though, I can't be bothered to measure black pepper from the grinder so I always just eyeball it.)
6. Add the egg/milk/bulgogi mixture to 1 lb ground meat (beef, pork, or turkey). Add 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs and the slightly cooled celery and onion mixture. Combine the ingredients with your hands, making sure you mix it well without compressing it too much. If you're squeamish, I suppose you could use a spoon but it really doesn't work as well as getting in there with your hands. Rubber gloves are a great resource too!
7. Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. (Don't use a cookie sheet; the meatloaf will ooze juices that you don't want dripping all over your oven.)
8. Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes, until the internal temperature is about 140-145 degrees. At this point, pour the remaining bulgogi marinade over the top of the meatloaf. (Cooking times will vary depending on how you shape your loaf.)
9. You can finish the meatloaf either under the broiler or with convection at about 425 F. The goal is to caramelize the marinade without burning it. If you broil it, don't put it on the highest rack because the sugar in the marinade will burn very easily.
10. It's done when the internal temperature is 155-160 F. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Pairs wonderfully with gochugaru garlic smashed potatoes!
Again, meatloaf is not photogenic, so I'm going to spare you another photo of the finished product.
Here's the whole process in video form: