How to Make Galbi (Korean Marinated Beef Short Ribs)
The term galbi actually just means “rib” in Korean. However there is an unspoken and unanimous understanding amongst Koreans that the term galbi refers to none other than the most delicious form of beef Korean barbeque of marinated, then grilled, beef short ribs.
When galbi is mentioned, the image of a delectable, sweetly-marinated, specially cut and prepared beef dish that is usually cooked over a charcoal fire comes to mind. By the way, galbi is not always marinated either (and when it is, it is called yangnyeom galbi). In fact, purists may opt for their galbi to be roasted plain and then dipped in either a little bit of salt and pepper, sesame oil or a mixture of both.
Today I am going to introduce you to every 1.5 generation Korean-American kid’s idea of galbi- LA Galbi.
So what’s LA galbi? And yes LA stands for Los Angeles, the city of angels and the OG K-town.
Traditionally galbi is horizontally filleted from the rib bone into one thin layer. This cut of galbi is also called wang galbi and looks something like this. Fit for a king ain’t it? Well ‘wang’ actually translates to king!
Then something magical happened when the early Korean immigrants in Los Angeles decided to make a more practical cut for their galbi. They cut their galbi laterally. Not much of the original marinade ingredients were changed, although I’ve known some to add in Sprite to their marinades (which is where David Chang probably got his inspiration from). Viola, LA galbi was born!
Personally I am biased towards LA style galbi because:
A. I grew up on it
B. I love the textural duality of each bite giving me a bit of gristle from around the bone and the tenderness from the wings of meat.
C. It’s easy to find in Asian grocery stores, reducing prep time.
D. I can cook it without a fancy charcoal grill setup (but it tastes best this way)
Without further ado, here is my recipe for LA Galbi. <3
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Marinade Time: 6 to 8 hours
Serves: 4 to 6
4 lbs LA style beef ribs
1 medium onion (~6 oz), peeled and roughly chopped
1 singo pear aka Korean pear(~1 lb), peeled, cored and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves
2 cups water
1/2 cup light-bodied soy sauce (I used Kikkoman brand)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbl mirin
1 tbl sesame oil
1 tsp plum vinegar
1 tsp ground black pepper (more if you prefer)
You will also need:
**Notes on substitutions - you may sub the pear with Fuji/Honeycrisp apples (make sure they are very juicy) and the plum vinegar with a fruit vinegar like balsamic or apple. Mirin may be subbed with white cooking wine. I know these ingredients may be hard to find!
How to make it
Remove ribs from package and rinse well over cold running water to remove any bone debris from slicing. This is an important step! Be kind to yourself (and your chompers) and rinse well.
2. In blender add in your onions, garlic, pear and one cup of water and puree until smooth. Then pour into a bowl lined with a cheesecloth.
3. Tightly squeeze out juice from the puree over a mixing bowl. This step may seem tedious, but it is key to not burning your galbi too quickly over high heat later.
4. Add in remaining cup of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, sesame oil, vinegar and pepper and whisk well. Pour over your ribs in you marinated container or bowl then let marinate for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
5. After the galbi has been marinated well, it’s time to cook! You may throw over the grill for about 3 minutes on each side or prepare in a standard non-stick pan. There’s no shame in this, many Korean home cooks prepare galbi this way.
Heat pan over medium high heat and cook galbi over this preheated pan for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side (less or more depending on how you like your beef cooked).
6. After galbi is finished cooking, let rest for a few minutes to keep the juices in and the meat tender before slicing into thirds. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and enjoy!