This baby-friendly Korean bulgogi is easy to make and perfect for your baby, toddler, and family! If you’re looking for a baby led weaning recipe and healthy kid-friendly meal on a budget, make this today!
We recently returned from spending a month in Korea and Malaysia where we walked a lot, sweated profusely, talked and laughed a bunch, and learned how to better handle an overtired, fussy toddler. All this led to an insatiable appetite and eat we did! Although my husband would tell you that it wasn’t enough. It’s crazy how much food the man can chow down when he’s on vacation mode.
Like daddy like son, our 2.5 year old completely immersed himself in the food scene. I mean we love Korean food too, but I shied away from cooking it at home, especially during C’s first year of life, because all the essential condiments (e.g. soy sauce, fermented bean paste) are so high in sodium. You can read about why it’s important to pay attention to your baby’s sodium intake in this blog post.
I’m definitely starting to become more lenient when it comes to C’s daily sodium intake, but I wouldn’t feel too comfortable letting him eat too much of the typical Korean food in one sitting. That’s a dilemma because my boy brings his appetite during mealtimes!
What’s a mama to do? Strap on her apron and come up with ways to reinvent the familiar dishes. Starting with bulgogi, one of the most well known Korean dishes. And I’m just thrilled to share this delicious, no-salt-added, baby-friendly recipe with you!
There’s not a single drop of soy sauce, one of the main ingredients, in the marinade. Therefore, it doesn’t taste the same as the traditional version, obviously, but it’s still very tasty! And of course, you can certainly add some low sodium soy sauce if you wish.
A couple of things I want to mention:
For the baby-friendly marinade
- The measurements for the ingredients don’t have to be exact. Simply give them a rough chop and add to the blender
- It’s best to use Asian pear for this recipe. However, I know it can be hard to find in some places. So I actually tried it with Bartlett pear, and it worked fine. But if you can get your hands on some Asian pear, buy a whole bunch. They’re so delicious to snack on too! Both the Pear and apple is used to tenderize the meat as well as to add sweetness.
How to select meat
- For beef, top sirloin, beef tenderloin, and rib-eye work best
- While bulgogi is traditionally made with beef, you can also use chicken or turkey. Dark meat works better, but I do tend to get white meat more often than not and marinade for longer.
- You can also use ground meat. It’s more convenient as you don’t have to slice it and don’t have to marinade it for as long. It’s also easier for babies to eat.
How to thinly slice meat
You can easily find it pre-cut if you visit a Korean grocer. It will be labeled “bulgogi meat” in the fridge/freezer section. But if you want to do it yourself, here’s what I suggest. Freeze the meat for about 2 hours or so. And working with a sharp knife, slice thinly (about 1/8 inch or so) across the grain.
Baby-Friendly Korean Bulgogi
For the marinade
- ½ cup chopped apples, peeled
- 1 cup chopped pear, peeled
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
For the beef
- 1 pound meat of choice, either thinly sliced or ground (I used lean ground beef)
- sliced or chopped vegetables of choice optional
- Combine marinade ingredients in blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth. In a bowl, add the meat and marinade. Massage meat throughout, cover and marinate. For ground meat, 30 minutes – 2 hours, thinly sliced – at least 4 hours (overnight ideal)
- Preheat skillet over medium high heat. Cook meat (and vegetables) until cooked through and caramelized.
- serve over rice, noodles, add to pancake batter, etc.