Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Korean barbecue ribs (Kalbi)

One of the biggest challenges I've had since I've moved back to Minnesota is finding the perfect cut of beef for bulgogi. In Washington, I shopped at HMart, a Korean grocery store. Finding beef for bulgogi was easy -- it was presliced, and you could buy some that had been marinated by the ajummas in the store.

Here? It's another story. Most of the beef I've gotten for what I consider to be a reasonable price, then sliced myself, has a) been sliced too thick and b) ended up kind of tough.

What is readily available in the Asian markets nearby, however, are short ribs -- the meat used to make Korean kalbi.

I cut the slabs into individual sized pieces, then marinated them over night with a sliced onion and a ton of garlic. Then, into the grill pan they went.


I was thrilled with the way these turned out. The meat was juicy and charred from the grill pan. I served the galbi with the fried onions and enoki mushrooms.

And Korean food isn't complete without kimchi, but I didn't have any on-hand, so I threw together a sort of quick "faux" kimchi -- mixing together homemade quick pickles, daikon radish, spring oninos, some rice vinegar and gochuchang. Super tasty.

1 lb short ribs, cut into individual pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
8-10 cloves garlic, smashed or sliced
1 bunch scallions, chopped (dark green parts only)

Whisk together liquids and pour over kalbi in a large plastic bag. Mix in onion, garlic and scallions. Marinate at least 2 hours, up to 24.

Heat a grill pan over high heat, then reduce to medium. Grill ribs 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Grill 1 bunch enoki mushrooms per person and toss with onions. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

RECIPE: quick "faux" kimchi
3 pickling cucumbers, cut into half inch pieces (the short, fat ones. But you could also use the long skinny seedless japanese ones)
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rice vinegar
Equal amount of pickled daikon radish (called dan-muji), about 1 round piece, 5 inches long, also cut into half inch pieces
1-2 TBS gochuchang
white and light green parts from the scallions used in kalbi marinade

Mix the sugar, salt and rice vinegar and pour over the cucumbers. Allow to "pickle" for at least 15 minutes, up to a few hours. Drain, then taste after 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary. (If they're too salty, give 'em a quick rinse)

Mix pickles with daikon and stir in gochuchang. Sprinkle with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Serve with other banchan (Korean side dishes) and barbeque.


  1. For thin sliced meat have you tried
    Kim's Oriental Market
    689 Snelling Ave N

    When I was in St Paul about two years ago we bought most of our meat there. We also shopped at:
    United Noodles Oriental
    2015 East 24th Street
    Minneapolis, MN

  2. Thanks for the suggestion!! I have purchased meat at Kim's before (also Seoul Foods) but have found it to be too expensive for what you get, and also the meat is pre-frozen, which I'm not a huge fan of.

    I usually shop at Shuang Her on University in St Paul or Double Dragon Foods on Rice and Maryland.