Galbi (Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs) + School Lunch Rant
OK, so sometimes I’m deranged enough – unpredictable, at best – to go from a dainty tea cake like this on my last post, to a manly, robust galbi / kalbi on this one. But whatevs!
I’m just so excited to share with you my galbi (Korean beef short ribs) recipe! I’ve experimented with many variations before, but I find this one to be authentic and tasty, possibly the best fit for our family’s taste. Nami, of Just One Cookbook blog, also has an excellent Japanese version here. This recipe contains a few ingredients that make it my best-kept secret: Asian pears, doenjang (soybean paste), and the optional gochujang (red pepper paste) – essential components in the marinade
Want to know a bit about the cooking science behind adding pears in this recipe? Enzymes in pears are supposedly activated by soy sauce proteases, which together, acts as a tenderizer to the rather tough short ribs. You want to know the dirt on this one? It’s true! It works, I swear! Do you know how many tough / dry galbi I had to bear before now? Besides, pears add another (fruity) flavour dimension to the ribs.
While I realize that there are many bottled galbi sauces (which surprisingly contains pear purée) available out there to make every busy cook’s life easier, I must say that it really doesn’t take any longer to make your own! When I read the ingredient list on the bottled marinade, the second item is always high fructose corn syrup, which we all know is evil, evil, evil! Really, that’s the stuff that poisons your body – those high fructose syrup (think motor oil of the food industry)! If you make your own marinade, not only do you know exactly what goes in there, it also tastes awesome! I promise!
But before I tell you how much this galbi / kalbi kicks butt, let me share with you a discussion that transpired between me and the hubby.
So one day, my husband warns me that when our kids go to full-day school, to make sure not to pack them ethnic foods for lunch. Since I didn’t go to elementary or middle school here and wasn’t sure of the “culture”, I was flabbergasted at his comment. Apparently, if I pack them white rice and ethnic dishes, they might get picked on (a.k.a. cafeteria bullying). I could not believe my ears! Does this happen in such a diverse country like Canada? Have you heard of similar food issues at your child’s school today? I hope not!
See, I don’t want to pack them fake-meat sandwiches with electric orange cheese just so they’d “fit in”; I want to pack them what we eat at home, which is a culinary tour de force based on my whims, haha! That said, I think families are savvier about food nowadays (homemade pesto pasta should beat chicken mcnuggets any time) – but I could be wrong. I truly hope kids these days are more open-minded about this stuff (where is Jamie Oliver when you need him?). I do, however, promise on my end not to embarrass my kids by sending them extremely stinky Asian fish sauce or pungent durian and the likes!
Now back to today’s recipe…My kids enjoy this galbi, served with either short-grain or long-grain white rice with some dried seaweed “sprinkles”. As my eldest daughter would say “Hey, this beef tastes like the one where we go to cook food on our table!” Like at the Korean restaurant? Best compliment. Ever.
- 4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs, cut flanken-style or Korean-style, about ¼-inch thick
- 2 pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
- 12 garlic cloves, peeled
- 8 teaspoons grated peeled, fresh ginger
- 1 cup (240 ml) soy sauce
- ¾ cup (170 g) Demerara sugar or brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons doenjang (soy bean paste)
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (red pepper paste, optional - only if you want a spicy version)
- 4 scallions, sliced thinly + more for garnish
- sesame seeds for garnish
- Have your butcher cut beef short ribs across the bones, otherwise known as flanken-style, Korean-style, or even Miami-style, about ¼-inch thick maximum. This can normally be done if you purchase meat at Asian supermarkets. Wash meat and dry with paper towels.
- In a bowl of a large food processor (at least a 6-cup processor), whirl the pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, doenjang, gochujang (if using) until smooth, about 30 seconds. Stir in the scallions.
- Prepare two 9 x 13 baking dishes or disposable aluminum pans, enough to lay the short ribs flat in 2 to 3 layers. Spread some marinade at the bottom of the container, then place your first layer of ribs down. Repeat until you have 2 to 3 layers, with marinade in between. Pour the remaining on top.
- Cover tightly and place in refrigerator. Marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours, turning meat once or twice to ensure even coating.
- Preheat your grill to 375 F / 190 C. Scrape grate clean with a grill brush and oil grate, then cover with lid until target temperature is reached.
- When the grill is ready, cook the short ribs, about 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until desired doneness is reached. Cook each batch with the lid down, as much as possible. Repeat until all ribs are done.
- Cut between each rib for smaller, bite-sized portions. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.