Kalbi is a classic Korean dish made with beef short ribs. The dish is made with Korean-style short ribs, which is a different cut to the US or European style. Korean-style short ribs are cut across the bone, rather than along it. As a result, they are thinner and can be cooked on a grill or barbecue.
My recipe uses thicker-cut ribs, the kind that are available in shops here, and is slow-cooked, instead of grilled, to give a beautifully tender, delicious dish. The meat is rich and flavourful and just falls off the bone.
This past year has afforded us all new opportunities to discover great local food producers, as many suppliers have gone online or started delivery services to manage their way through the pandemic. I got beautiful beef short ribs for this recipe from Redmond Grocer, here in Wexford, a wonderful local producer rearing and supplying grass-fed Irish Angus beef.
Do check out your own local suppliers: Shopping local and supporting local food producers is one way to make our food more sustainable. The quality of produce is also usually outstanding.
This is a very simple dish, which takes just minutes to prepare. It does need an overnight marinade, and then a long, slow cook at low temperature, but you can leave it to its own devices and let the low temperature and this beautiful marinade perform their magic. I promise you that you will be delighted with the result.
It is not a spicy dish, so add some heat, if you wish, by serving it with fresh, sliced chilli and some gochujang, a fabulous Korean chilli sauce. You will find my recipe for that on ieFood. If you cannot find any Asian pear, just use kiwi fruit, which is a great substitute. I have made this dish with both on different occasions, and either is delicious.
Serve the ribs with plain, boiled rice, a green vegetable (such as bok choy or broccoli) stir fried in sesame oil with garlic and soy sauce, little gem lettuce leaves, and some ssamjang. A few little bowls of chopped spring onion and sliced red chilli are good on the side, too. This is a meal to be shared, to serve up on platters, and then to let everyone help themselves. I previously shared a recipe for ssamjang, a lovely Korean sauce, but I have included it again here.
Slow Cooked Kalbi: Korean Beef Short Ribs
This dish is very simple and takes just minutes to prepare. Let the marinade work its magic for a few hours and you'll be delighted with the result.
Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time4 hours 0 mins
Total Time4 hours 15 mins
For the ribs:
2kg style beef short ribs
150g soft brown sugar
250ml soy sauce
125ml cup water
60ml rice wine or mirin
1 small onion
1 small Asian pear or 2 kiwi fruit
50g garlic cloves
60g fresh ginger
30ml toasted sesame oil
A good grind of black pepper
3 spring onions
Handful toasted sesame seeds
2 heads of little gem lettuce
For the ssamjang:
80g Korean soybean paste or miso
2 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1tbps finely chopped onion
20g flaked almonds
½ apple, cored and finely chopped
Put the ribs in a big bowl and sprinkle over all the sugar; rub the sugar into the ribs to coat them well. Let that rest on your counter top, while you prepare the marinade. Peel and roughly chop the onion, garlic, and ginger root. Peel the Asian pear or kiwi fruit, and roughly chop those, too. Pop the lot, along with the rest of the ingredients for the marinade, into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour the marinade over the ribs, making sure they are well coated. Cover with cling film, and marinade in the fridge overnight.
The next day, heat your oven to 130c for a fan oven. Put the ribs and marinade into a casserole dish, cover with a lid and cook for four to five hours, until the meat is soft and tender and just falls away from the bone. These ribs will have produced quite a lot of fat during the slow-cooking process, so either use a fat separator or just scoop it off the surface when your ribs are cooked. Remove the ribs to a serving platter and keep them warm, while you reduce the sauce a little over medium heat, if it needs to thicken a little. Do this rather than use cornflour, as you will get a much better flavour and it will only take five to 10 minutes.
Make your ssamjang by popping all the ingredients into a food processor and blitzing until smooth. This will only take a minute or two. Wash the lettuce leaves, keeping them whole. Serve them up on the side in a little bowl. Chop the spring onions, serve those in a little bowl, and then slice some fresh red chilli and serve that up, too. Pour the sauce over the ribs, and scatter them with some chopped spring onion and toasted sesame seeds. The idea here is to have the platter of ribs, the lettuce leaves, little bowls with sauces and toppings, some stir-fried greens and a bowl of plain boiled rice in the middle of the table.
Everyone can them help themselves to whatever they fancy. Have some of the meat on a lettuce leaf topped with spring onion and chilli to make a gorgeous, bite-sized parcel of food. Have some more with rice and stir-fried greens and lots of the lovely, rich, sweet sauce. This is a meal that will give you a few different eating experiences, all of them absolutely delicious.