Are you ready to bring your cookout to the next level?
Every so often I need to put up something here that isn’t fermented because I just love it so much and feel the burning need to share. Today we are talking… GALBI!
In my college days, I was lucky enough to daily tutor the children of a Korean couple who owned a sushi restaurant. When they told me I’d be fed dinner each day in addition to my pay, I was so thrilled because I’m a huge fan of sushi. I had no idea when I was hired that they were Korean (and that a large number of sushi restaurants in the US are owned by Koreans). And I definitely had no idea that I would be served Korean food for those meals.
Honestly, I’m pretty sure I had to hide a look of shock or even disappointment that first day when they brought out all the banchan – side dishes like kimchi, dried anchovies, and seasoned mung bean sprouts – and not all the sushi rolls and pieces I loved and was accustomed to. In particular, I remember the girls really urging me to have kimchi and them eating a lot of it. It was just so… different. And I’m sure I didn’t know it was fermented or what fermented even meant.
This was my first experience with kimchi and it was definitely an acquired taste. (I never could have guessed just how INSANE I’d become about all this!) But it wasn’t long before I went from not minding to eat kimchi, to actually feeling like I craved it. Well, the fact is, I grew to love everything they served me. There isn’t a single meal or dish in Korean cuisine I haven’t come to really enjoy, and I’m so happy looking back to have had that experience.
That said, as with any cuisine, some things rank higher than others, and really high on my list is galbi, Korean BBQ-style beef shortribs. Juicy, meaty, fatty, umami goodness. I’ve been lucky in that, by coincidence, I have continued to work with and for members of the Korean community for most of my adult life. I’ve had a lot more galbi since those days (yay!) and been able to talk and learn about Korean cooking with a lot of Koreans over the years.
It’s with that background that I humbly give you my galbi recipe. It’s a pretty standard formula but I’ll share a couple twists I’ve put on it and also encourage you to check out my video on my YouTube channel.
Yield: 2 lbs. (pre-cooked) beef shortribs. Multiply all ingredients equally for more. For example, double all quantities for 4 lbs.
You will need:
- Cutting board
- Large mixing bowls (2)
- Paper towels
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Gallon ziptop bag or equivalent glassware container
- Grater or food processor
- 2 lbs. beef bone-in shortribs (aka flanken), ~1/2″-thick cut
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 large Asian pear, grated/shredded (or sub with 1 regular apple or pear, or 50g pineapple)
- 1/2 onion, grated/shredded
- 1/2 cup soy sauce (Korean variety suggested)
- 2 TBSP mirin or “cooking rice wine”
- 2 TBSP garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP sesame oil
- 1 TBSP rice vinegar
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Optional (not a regular ingredient): 2 TBSP shio koji
- Optional (not a regular ingredient): minced hot pepper, e.g. 1 minced serrano, or 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Optional when serving: garnish with thin-sliced green onion
1.) Suggested: Cut strips of ribs down the middle. Submerge the ribs in a bowl of water and refrigerate (or use very cold water on counter) for 30 minutes.
2.) Thoroughly pat dry the ribs. Then rub evenly with the brown sugar and in bowl, ziptop bag, or glassware container. Allow to sit for 30-60 minutes (refrigerator suggested).
3.) Prepare and combine all the other ingredients in mixing bowl to make the marinade. Mix thoroughly. Add the meat, one strip at a time to ensure each is coated.
4.) Transfer meat and all marinade to gallon ziptop bag, glassware storage container, or equivalent. Avoid excess air in a bag and roll it. If cooking the same day, a covered bowl can suffice as well. Make sure the meat is as submerged as possible. Always marinate for a minimum of 8 hours. Suggested length to marinate: 1-4 days (if using acidic fruits like pineapple, limit to 24 hours).
5.) To cook: Remove meat from the marinade. You may wipe off any bits of grated apple & onion but it’s also fine if some remains. In general, the meat holds up well to cooking and don’t be afraid to go a little longer rather than not long enough, to obtain some nice charring.
Charcoal (traditional) or gas grill: Cook with closed lid over medium heat for around 4 minutes per side, until the meat is well-browned. With gas grills, you may lift cover and cook on high heat for an additional 45 seconds per side as the meat is approaching readiness. Aim for a golden brown with some charring.
Broil: Place on broiling pan and broil on the highest rack, for around six minutes, until nicely caramelized and charred but avoid burning.
Cast-iron skillet or Hibachi-style grill: Turn on high heat. Apply a thin coat of sesame or other high smoke-point oil. Cook for around 4 minutes per side, again looking for caramelization and light charring without burning.
Serve right away with some rice, kimchi, and other banchan!
Check out this insane, decadent galbi sandwitch with Korean salad, kimchi (with peach and cayenne in the paste), fried egg, shoyuzuke soy pickles, and my peach kimchi aioli! Post your own crazy sandwich creations and experiences at Rate My Sandwich on Facebook!