Lamb Bulgogi Bolognese – Bulgognese

Lamb Bulgogi Bolognese - Bulgognese

I love making (and eating) Bolognese, but making it with lamb bulgogi as the base blew me away! Just imagine for a minute, sinking your teeth into a meaty and slightly creamy sauce that looks somewhat like Bolognese, but then as you keep chewing you realize it’s richer, has more umami, and is way more spicy!!! That is what it feels like to eat this Lamb Bulgogi Bolognaise! This pasta dish has everything I love in pasta, and the modern fusion flavors that I crave. You might be skeptical about how great bulgogi and bolognaise flavors go together, but once you take a bite you will be a believer!

Inspiration for Bulgogi Bolognese

I had some leftover lamb that was marinated in a bulgogi marinade from a recent cooking class and was planning on making a quick noodle dish with it. I was thinking more of an Asian rice noodle dish at first, but then when the time came I thought it would be fun to make an Italian pasta with it. Then I realized I could call it bulgognese and immediately started cooking. This was one of my favorite things I have made in a long time and I ate the entire thing over the course of a few days while Georgina was on a work trip.

What’s in the marinade?
  • 1 pear or apple
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 inches ginger sliced thin
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablesoons honey
  • 1 pound ground lamb

You only need to mix half of the marinade with the meat. We will use the rest later to form the flavor base of the lamb bulgogi Bolognese.

Marinated ground lamb in the pan with some onion and carrot

Let’s make the Lamb Bulgogi Bolognaise

I marinated the ground lamb in bulgogi marinade overnight. The marinated meat goes in the pan with some onion and carrot. I was considering adding garlic but there is already 5 cloves in the marinade which I think it a good amount for one pound of pasta.

The meat cooked down with more of the marinade

After the meat is cooked down, more of the marinade goes in. I can’t stress enough that you really want to cook everything aggressively before adding the next item. Look how nicely browned the meat is in this photo. All that brown flavor is going to transfer through to the final dish of Lamb Bulgogi Bolognese.

gochujang and tomato paste in the pan

After that addition of marinade cooks down, some gochujang and tomato paste go into the pan. Then just keep cooking!

the Bolognese coming together

In between each step this cooked for 5 or 10 or even 15 minutes so in the end it looks really pasty and brown like this. That’s what you should be looking for. Don’t worry that it looks this thick and dry, we will add some liquids before eating the Lamb Bulgogi Bolognese.

coconut milk is the last ingredient

Add some water first, and then coconut cream. Give it a good simmer and taste it to see if it needs anything, like more salt or cream or heat!

Add the pasta to the lamb bulgogi Bolognese

Finally, cook the noodles and add them to the lamb bulgogi Bolognese when they are about 85% cooked. Let them finish cooking in the sauce.

lamb bulgogi Bolognese aka bulgognese

I topped the Lamb Bulgogi Bolognese with lots of garnishes!

  • sesame oil
  • sesame seeds
  • gochugaru
  • scallions
  • cucumber.

Incredible. If you love spicy Asian twists on Bolognaise, I also did a Sichuan Bolognaise that was amazing!

lamb bulgogi Bolognese aka bulgognese

This really had the essence of Bolognese but with strong bulgogi flavors and the richness of lamb! There is pear, honey, and ginger in the marinade that gives it a nice sweetness, and plenty of gochujang that makes the whole dish fiery hot in a good way. The lamb added some extra richness that would be missing if it were just ground beef.

lamb bulgogi Bolognese aka bulgognese

Twists and shortcuts for Lamb Bulgogi Bolognese

I made this bulgogi Bolognese with lamb, but you could obviously make a pretty similar version with ground beef. You could do ground chicken, turkey, or vegetarian “meat” as well! If you wanted to go to a Korean store and buy pre-marinaded bulgogi, that would be a great shortcut. Usually that comes as shaved steak instead of ground, but that is fine, just add the meat and all of the marinade from the package in step 4 and don’t worry about the additional marinade in step 5.

Products and ingredients I used to help make this recipe

I grab my Korean ingredients at H-mart, but sometimes it’s best to order online so you have them when you need them. For this recipe, the harder to find ingredients are gochujang and gochugaru.

Bulgognese - Bulgogi Bolognese
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5 from 1 vote

Lamb Bulgogi Bolognese

Bulgogi marinated lamb cooked down with gochujang and tomato paste to form a spicy bolognese sauce I am calling bulgognese.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Marinate time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Korean
Keyword: Mash-Up, pasta, Spicy
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 911kcal



  • 1 pear or apple
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 inches ginger sliced thin
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablesoons honey
  • 1 pound ground lamb


  • sesame oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni


  • drizzle of sesame oil
  • sesame seed
  • gochugaru Korean chili flakes
  • sliced cucumbers
  • sliced scallions


  • Mix the pear, gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, honey, and a few pinches of salt in a food processor and process until smooth and broken down.
  • Put the lamb in a bowl and stir in 1/2 of the marinade. Mix until combined and set aside in the fridge for at least an hour or preferably overnight. Put the other half of the marinade in another bowl, cover, and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  • In a large frying pan with a little sesame oil, cook the onion and carrot over medium high heat for about 10-15 minutes until very reduced in size and starting to brown on the edges.
  • Add in the meat that has been marinating overnight. Stir to combine and reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook and stir and break apart the meat for about 10 minutes until everything is nice and brown.
  • Add in the rest of the marinade and cook another 5 minutes until browned and perfectly mixed with the rest of the sauce. Add in the tomato paste and gochujang and cook another 5 – 10 minutes. The whole mixture should be brown and pasty. See above photo for references.
  • Add in about 1 cup of water to loosen up the sauce. Stir to combine. Add in the coconut cream and stir to combine. Allow this mixture to simmer on low heat for about a half hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and strain when it is al dente. Add the pasta right into the sauce, adding a little pasta cooking liquid if needed to loosen up the sauce to a desired texture.
  • Serve the pasta and top with a sprinkle of all the garnishes.


Calories: 911kcal | Carbohydrates: 108g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 465mg | Potassium: 985mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 5355IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 5mg

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I haven’t actually cooked this yet but the marinade is DELICIOUS. I’m working on a vegan version using soy chunks that were rehydrated in beefless broth and then minced finely in the food processor. Korean food is a household fave so I’m really excited for this 😀

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