Sticky Korean Beef

Sticky Korean Beef

by Claire Tansey


Sticky Korean Beef



Serves 3 to 4

This classic Korean flavor combination is out-of-this-world delicious. It's traditionally made with really thinly sliced beef, but since that's time consuming and a difficult technical skill to master, I simplified it by using ground meat instead. The key here is to use a pan that is not non-stick and to let the beef cook without touching it at first so the meat gets a little bit crispy. Then, the sugar in the sauce makes the beef sticky while the other flavors meld into a dish that's basically impossible not to like.

If you have time to cook a pot of rice, it's the ideal accompaniment. If not, spoon the beef into lettuce cups or even warmed tortillas. Or just eat it with a spoon – it's that good.


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 500 g medium or lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 2 green onions, chopped


1. Heat a large cast iron pan over high. Add the sesame and canola oils. Allow the oils to get really hot, then add the beef and press it into an even layer. Let it cook, without stirring, about 5 minutes, or until the edges become dark brown and slightly crispy.

2. Add the garlic, ginger and chili flakes and then stir, breaking up the larger pieces of meat, and cook another 2 to 4 minutes, or until it's mostly cooked through. If there is excess fat in the pan (this happens if you use medium ground beef), spoon out and discard some fat, leaving roughly 3 tablespoons of it in the pan.

3. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the meat and add the soy sauce. Stir well and cook about 30 seconds, then add the cabbage. Stir and cook until cabbage softens just a bit, about 3 minutes. Garnish with green onions.

This week's recipe for Sticky Korean Beef is from Claire Tansey's forthcoming DINNER UNCOMPLICATED: Fixing a Delicious Meal Every Night of the Week, which comes out Sept. 29, 2020.