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Korean Kalbi – huh? August 22, 2008

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, food porn, random stuff.
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As I may have mentioned, I was brought up in a suburb in the Midwest, in a primarily Scandinavian area. I’m talking phone books full of Andersons, Johnsons, Nelsons, Nyquists, and Petersons, as well the alternate spellings for most of those names. I went to primary school with one Italian kid (Bob DeBacco) and a Chinese girl (Linda Huang) – everyone else was either blonde, or blue-eyed, or both.

While we had lots of casseroles, mashed potatoes, thick Midwestern steaks, and, of course, tacos for special occasions, “ethnic” type stuff has always been a little outside my comfort zone, so, in a sense, I’ve been playing Food Catchup for years. . .

Of course, that was all before Food Network.

You know, Italian food is more than spaghetti and pizza.

And Asian food is so much more than Chinese takeout. I’ve managed to do a nice stir-fry, as you’ll recall, thanks to our friends at Cook’s Illustrated. So where else would I turn when we find a package of beef short ribs in the bottom of the chest freezer? (And by the way – if you frequently stick stuff in the freezer and forget about it 😳 you might want to consider a vacuum sealer. You would never know that those ribs had been frozen for, uh, three years!)

So anyway. I had stumbled up on the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Korean Grilled Short Ribs a while back and, uh, made a mental note. Without going into too much detail, Kalbi is evidently the ultimate in Korean comfort food. So when we dug up the ribs, well, I knew just what I wanted to do with them. . .

First, Peeps butchered the ribs. Oh yes. Even though we had a package of nicely cut beef ribs, ribs that were perfectly appropriate to, say, brown and braise for a few hours in some beef stock and red wine, then eat with your fingers, that just won’t do.


Trim the fat, and cut the meat off the bones, and now we’re ready to get to work.

PhotobucketOf course, that same Midwestern upbringing that brought us potato-chip topped casseroles also won’t let me just throw away all those good bones with good beef still clinging to them. . . so I stuck them back in the freezer to be pulled out next time we use the smoker – Jarly-mon will appreciate that, don’t you think?

So while I’m making the marinade, Peeps is finishing with the meat. After trimming each rib, he’s going to slice them into 3/4-inch pieces, then pound them to about 1/4 inch thick. A lot of work? Perhaps. . . but how better to virtually guaranty nice, tender beef?

Photobucket Photobucket

So while he’s dealing with 3 or 4 pounds of ribs, I’m gonna start the marinade. You know, I love recipes that we can just toss together the night before (or whenever), let marinate, then just pull out and grill.  Usually, though, they don’t take this much prep, but hopefully it will be worth it. 🙄

So. The marinade. I’m going to take the following and toss in the Cuisinart:


  • 1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 6 peeled cloves of garlic
  • about 4 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Sounds, um, interesting, huh? 😯

Yeah, well, while I whir that stuff all together, Peeps sticks his meat in a zip-top bag, along with 3 thinly sliced scallions.

Photobucket Photobucket

Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), the marinade is. . . interesting. We dump it into the bag o’meat and walk away. Just stick in the fridge and walk away until the next day.


Looks, uh, yummy, doesn’t it?

However, looks can be deceiving. We let the meat marinate in the pear stuff overnight – actually, for about 24 hours (remember magic internet time?), then it’s time to grill.

While the rice is resting (have I mentioned how much I really like the rice cooker?) Peeps pre-heats the grill. I think the technical term is he “gets the grill rippin’ hot.”

The grill gets scraped (mostly) then oiled (pretty much), and we’re ready to go – rice is resting, let’s do this.


Think *opposite of steak* for this. Since we’ve cut the meat into small pieces, you’re gonna have to fuss with it. You can’t just throw it on the grill, walk away, sip your beer, then come back. Nope. It’s going to have to be turned a few times, then turned some more, then set aside while the rest of the meat cooks. Really, it’s OK. I built a little foil tray to put on the top rack of the grill to keep stuff warm – it seems to have worked out perfectly for this.


Once both batches of beef are done, and the rice is rested, and the salad (with fresh tomatoes!) is made, it’s dinner time!

Now, since it seems that rice (being all bright white and stuff, I guess) is apparently difficult to photograph, I used the zoom feature and left out the rice part. . .the meat alone. . .


Now, as to nutrition, I have no clue. Short ribs are particularly fatty, but Peeps did a stellar job trimming a lot of the surface fat off. . .and really, how bad can a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil and a pear be, spread among 4 servings?

So. . . the big question – was it worth it?

Oh. My. Goodness. This was absolutely incredible. The meat was tender and flavorful. The almost-bite-sized bits of beef were full of balanced sweet-savory flavors. The crispy, charred bits are. . . frickin’ wonderful, and the less crispy-charred bits are full of flavor and slightly chewy.

We’ve got enough left for lunch for each of us, so we’ll see how it holds up as leftovers, but at this point, I’d be more than happy to do this again.

Who knows – maybe we could try freezing it in proper portions for just two – no leftovers, no reheating worries. But either way, these Korean short ribs are incredible, and we are so doing them again.


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