Updated: Apr 25, 2021
This iconic dish from Korea, one that is just too darned delicious. They use a thin cut of beef spare ribs that are cut across the ribs called the flanken cut, but most grocery stores in the US sell it as Korean style or Kalbi beef cut.
Korean cuisine is full of grilled meats, whether they be beef, lamb, chicken, pork or fish. The first time I had Korean grilled meat was at a small restaurant in Belmont, CA called Kaya BBQ and tofu. I was in love with the complex flavors and banchan. One of my dream vacations is to eat at the grilled meat market in Seoul.
This cuisine has evolved out of necessity when the early settlers moved across Asia to settle. They developed the technique of marinating meat before cooking. This was different than what the Chinese at that time were doing, which was to season the meat after cooking it. Here is a brief and fascinating history of grilled meat in Korea.
In this version, yes every family has their very secret recipe, the meat is marinated in a mix of pineapple, pears, and apples with sake and Gojuchang chilli powder for 24-48 hours. The meat is fall apart tender with a touch of spice and a sweet caramelization that is irresistible. The pineapple (bromelain) also serves as a natural tenderizer, similar to the effect of raw papayas or modern meat tenderizers.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
1/4 cup fresh or canned pineapples, pureed into a smooth paste, or pineapple juice
1/2 onion, grated
1 small Asian pear, grated
1/2 apple, grated
6 garlic cloves, crushed or inced
1 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup mirin
3 generous tablespoons Gojuchang chilli flakes
3-4 lbs Korean-style cut beef ribs
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in large flat dish that will also hold the meat. Submerge the meat in the marinade, mixing well to make sure the meat is well coated. Allow to marinate in your fridge for 24-48 hours.
Remove the meat from the marinade and cook on a grill or in the broiler (only in the winter when you crave Kalbi) till it is charred in spots, about 3-4 minutes a side. You can baste with the marinade for some additional stickiness and to keep the meat juicy.
Serve with rice, Japchae, and banchan: Almost-instant cucumber kimchi, Blistered shishito peppers (coming soon) or other kimchi of choice, and lettuce leaves.