Friday, September 12, 2014

Korean-Style Short Ribs (2) | Kalbi (갈비)

When Koreans introduce non-Koreans to Korean cuisine, we usually ease them into it by feeding them kalbi. It's one of those super crowd-pleasing dishes because it contains a lot of familiar flavors. It's a lot of fun sitting down at a Korean restaurant and grilling the meat at the table and eating everything family style. The experience is interactive and fun and v. social. But, the downside is that it's pretty expensive. You might pay around $40 per person to leave with a belly full of food. So, of course, I prefer making kalbi at home.

I shared a kalbi recipe almost three years ago but I thought it was time for an update. Honestly, when I make kalbi, I never use measuring spoons and cups. I just chuck this and that into a bowl, stir it up, give it a dip with my pinky to taste, and adjust if necessary. However, I did my best to measure this time so that I could share. Oh, and sometimes I'll add grated pear or apple for added natural sweetness but we don't always have those on hand, so I just wrote out the recipe using the most basic ingredients, ingredients that most people will have in their pantry at all times.
Ingredients [serves 6 to 8]:
kalbi
2 lbs. short ribs
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 scallions, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

scallion salad
15 scallions (about 3 bunches)
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 teaspoon vinegar (rice wine, apple cider, pomegranate, something light and fruity)

Add all of the marinade ingredients to a container and mix everything together; whack it all up with a fork. I like to just use a tupperware container that will fit all of the ribs to save on dishes. Oh, and just a quick tip: store your ginger in the freezer and it will be so much easier to grate, skin and all. It grates into a fine snow. Plus, keeping it in the freezer will make it last much longer.

Dip each short rib piece in the marinade and pack it up in the tupperware and leave to marinade for one hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. You could also pack this up and stick it in the freezer for up to a month. Just defrost them in the fridge the day before you want to eat them.
I like to let the ribs come to room temperature before cooking them so that they're not ice cold when they get slapped on the grill. When it's inconvenient to be grilling (e.g. winter time, rainy days, lazy days), I just line a baking pan with foil and line up the short ribs and stick them in the broiler.
Ahh, perfect grill marks! Kalbi is sweet and savory and salty and so incredibly flavorful and delicious. If you haven't tried it, you must. It's great. I mean, unless you're vegetarian or vegan, in which case, try marinating some seitan or tofu in the same seasonings.
So on this particular day, I whipped up a major Korean feast. We had leftover nakji bokkeum so I decided to make nakji dolsot bibimbap!
Would you look at this amazingness? We had fish cake stir fry, anchovy stir fry, scallion salad, bok choy with garlic, eggplant with garlic sauce, soon tofu, and ssam. We like to cut the meat off the bones with scissors to make the kalbi easier to eat. I also love to chew on the bones. There's a tendon-y bit wrapped around the bone that's super chewy and I know most people avoid it but I love it.
You can't forget a delicious scallion salad when you're eating ssam.
It's so easy to make Korean barbecue at home. Skip the expensive restaurants, will you?
Friggin' awesome!
Here are the recipe pages for the kalbi and the scallion salad:

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