Saturday, February 23, 2013

Galbi (Grilled Korean Short Ribs)

By the end of this week, it will be March. I'm itching to grill over charcoal, but I'll be damned if I'm going to shovel a path to my Weber. So it's back to my much-used grill pan for some indoor grilling (

Korean barbecue is some of the tastiest cuisine on the face of the earth. This dish, which features a cut of beef that I revere, is a rich cornucopia of Asian flavors. The marinade makes the meat: soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, onion, garlic and Asian pear.

The key to Galbi is that you want thin strips of short rib, no more than a half inch thick. There are basically three ways to achieve that. If you buy English style short ribs (like the ones they sell at Whole Foods, which are cut along the bone), you must butterfly the meat into thin strips. This is a hassle, so I suggest you avoid this option.

The second option is can just ask your butcher to cut you flanken-style short ribs in half-inch thick strips (see photo above). Then all you have to do is marinate and grill. The third option, which is the cheapest, is to buy the boneless short ribs at Costco ($3.99 per pound) and just trim them into half-inch thick strips.

Because the meat is but a half-inch think, it cooks very quickly. When the meat is done, it is typically placed inside a lettuce leaf with a spoonful of rice and a dab of ssamjang, the spicy Korean bean paste. This recipe was created by David Tanis and serves four to six people.

3 pounds short ribs, cut in 1/2-inch slices across the bones, flanken-style (about 20 slices)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or gochujang
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small Asian pear, peeled, cored and quartered (or use an ordinary pear or tart apple)
1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Lettuce leaves
Sliced red or green hot pepper, optional
Ssamjang (spicy Korean soybean paste), for dipping, optional
Steamed rice, optional                  

  1. Pat short ribs dry with a paper towel and place in a wide shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix together soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, black pepper and cayenne.  
  2. Put onion, garlic, pear and ginger in the work bowl of a food processor. Grind ingredients to a smooth purée, then add to soy sauce mixture. Add sesame seeds. Thin with ¼ cup water. Pour marinade over short ribs and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Bring to room temperature, drain and discard marinade.
  3. Cook short ribs on a hot grill or under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned but juicy. Pile grilled meat on a platter and serve immediately with lettuce leaves on the side. Accompany with sliced hot peppers, ssamjang and steamed rice, if desired.

Wine pairing: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

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