Why It Works
- A food processor makes quick work of this savory-sweet marinade that pairs perfectly with beef for Korean-style barbecue.
- Unlike thick-cut short ribs that are better-suited for braising, flanken-style beef short ribs are ideal for marinating and grilling due to their increased surface area and thinness.
Beef galbi is one of the iconic cuts of meat used in Korean barbecue. "Galbi" (or "kalbi") translates from Korean as "ribs," and in the United States this term has become synonymous with beef short ribs, usually cut cross-wise through the rib bones to produce long, thin pieces of meat that are attached on one side to cross-sections of bone (usually three per piece). This cut is often referred to as "LA-style" for Korean barbecue (at butcher shops that use Western European butchery terms, this cut is known as "flanken-style"), as it was popularized by Korean immigrants in Los Angeles.
The short ribs are marinated in a soy sauce-based mixture that gets an allium punch from garlic, onion, and scallions, and is sweetened with brown sugar and Asian pear. Black pepper and toasted sesame oil balance out the marinade's sweet and savory notes. The short ribs are quickly grilled over high heat, and then served with Korean garnishes and staples like steamed rice, ssamjang for dipping, lettuces and perilla leaves for wrapping, and banchan for snacking.
- For the Galbi:
- 1 medium onion (about 7 ounces; 200g), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 Asian pear (about 6 ounces; 170g), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
- 5 garlic cloves (25g)
- 1-inch piece (1/2 ounce; 14g) fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 cup (240ml) soy sauce
- 1/2 cup (120ml) water
- 1/4 cup (50g) packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) mirin
- 1 tablespoon (6g) freshly ground black pepper
- 4 scallions (80g), thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons (12g) toasted sesame seeds, lightly crushed
- 3 pounds (1.4kg) flanken-style beef short ribs, about 1/2-inch-thick (see note)
- For serving:
- Lettuce and perilla leaves, steamed rice, thinly sliced garlic, chilies, and scallions, and assorted banchan
For the Galbi: Combine onion, Asian pear, garlic, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor and process to a coarse purée, scraping down sides of food processor bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Stop processor and add soy sauce, water, brown sugar, mirin, and black pepper to food processor bowl. Continue processing until liquids and sugar are well-combined with vegetables, 15 to 30 seconds longer. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl, and stir in scallions, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
Place beef in a gallon zipper-lock bag or large baking dish, and pour marinade over the short ribs. Toss to evenly distribute the marinade, then seal bag, removing as much air as possible (if using baking dish, wrap tightly with plastic wrap). Transfer short ribs to refrigerator, and marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.
Remove short ribs from marinade and wipe off excess. Place directly over the hot side of the grill. If using a charcoal grill, leave uncovered; if using a gas grill, cover. Cook, turning occasionally, until beef is cooked through and lightly charred on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total (3 to 4 minutes per side). Transfer to a serving platter and allow to rest for at least 2 minutes before serving.
For Serving: Serve short ribs immediately with a pair of kitchen shears on-hand for cutting the meat off the bone and into bite-size pieces. Pass ssamjang, lettuces, garnishes, and banchan at the table.
Bosc pear or apple can be substituted for Asian pear.
Flanken-style beef short ribs are thin, long pieces of short rib that have been cut crosswise through the rib bones. They can be found at Korean markets, where they are usually labeled "LA-Style Galbi," or can be cut to order at good butcher shops.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The grilled short ribs are best enjoyed immediately. The marinade can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days. The short ribs can be marinated for up to 24 hours.