Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kalbi (Korean Barbecue Short Ribs)

Kalbi marinade ingredients still life
Still Life of Marinade Ingredients

My friend Vince* is known for his kalbi recipe, so when I asked him for it, this is what he gave me:

-1 cup ajimirin sauce
-1/2 can of 7-Up
-1 kiwi
-1 yellow onion
-1 red apple
-1 pear...preferably Asian pear
-1/2 cup garlic

-Blend all these ingredients together and take 3 cups of the blend and mix it with the 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of soy sauce.

I laughed when I first read this because of the lack of instructions on how to prepare the fruits. Was I supposed to peel and core the apple and pear? I wasn't supposed to throw the whole kiwi into the blender, right? When I asked him for clarification, he said that what he sent me was what he got verbatim from his Korean friend. There was also something in the recipe about "tenderizing" the short ribs, but there were no details as to how to do that. Seeing as how kalbi meat is so tender already, I figured I could just skip that part.

Perhaps the hardest part about making kalbi is finding the right cut of meat. You want to get beef short ribs that are cut across the bones, not with, which is how they're usually sold in American grocery stores. I just found out via the recent post on thekitchn.com that this is called a "flanken" count (not the same as flank steak). The only place I've found this cut is at a local Korean grocery store. Sara Kate, who wrote the post, suggests "slicing the traditional three-rib short ribs down to the bones length-wise and splaying them on the grill" if you can't find the flanken cut.

Kalbi (Korean Barbecue Short Ribs)
serves 8-12 people

6 lbs. flanken cut beef short ribs
1 kiwi
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 red apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1 pear (preferably Asian pear, but I had a Bosc so I used that), peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup peeled garlic gloves
1 cup ajimirin sauce (I didn't have any so I substituted rice wine)
1/2 can of 7-Up
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar

Cut the kiwi in half and remove the meat using a spoon. Add the kiwi meat to a blender along with the onion, apple, pear, garlic, mirin (or rice wine) and 7-Up. Puree using the blender. Measure out 3 cups of this mixture into a medium mixing bowl and add the soy sauce and sugar.

Kalbi marinade

Arrange the ribs in a baking dish (you may have to use two depending on the size of your dish) and pour the marinade over them, making sure that all surfaces are exposed to the marinade. Alternatively, you can use two gallon-sized freezer bags.

Marinating the kalbi

Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, turning the ribs around a few times so they marinate evenly.

Grill the ribs over high heat. I do about 3 minutes on each side because my ribs are cut pretty thin, but you may have to grill yours longer if yours are thicker. If you don't have a grill, you can also pan-fry or use the broiler to cook the ribs. I used my electric grill and cooked it outside because the smell is heavenly, but not something you want to stick around for days.

Grilling kalbi

Serve with washed Romaine lettuce leaves, cooked rice, and ssamjang (Korean spicy bean paste). Each person should remove the meat from the bones and wrap the meat in the the lettuce along with the rice and bean paste. Don't forget to gnaw on the meat in between the bones; it's hard to get to, but oh so worth it!


If you're not planning on cooking the ribs right away, you can freeze them in the freezer bags after adding the marinade. When you're ready to cook them, defrost defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

I <3 Kalbi
I <3 Kalbi!

*Breaking news! I just found out that Vince liked the kalbi recipe so much, he ended up dating the girl that gave it to him! Perhaps I should rename this post: A Kalbi Worth Dating For....


  1. Hi Joy! Basil told me about this blog :) I've found that fruit juices tenderize the meat too much so I only use it if I'm going to eat it immediately :) Looks tasty though!!


  2. Really nice pictures! Its "print quality" for a cookbook one day!


  3. I <3 kalbi too! This looks delicious.

  4. yummy! that looks delicious! and who knew kalbi could lead to romance...

  5. Hahahahaha! I didn't even know that!

  6. That is a really nice sounding kalbi marinade!

  7. hmmm not quite the way I was taught to do it LOL! Grandma definately didnt use the 7-UP or the apple and pear. I'll post up her recipe and you can tell me if it holds a candle to this one.

  8. that's fantastic! i've heard of using 7-up or coke, using pear or sometimes apple is traditional and nothing new, but kiwi, that's interesting - i definitely have to try the kiwi next time - btw, why isn't "sesame oil" used??

  9. This recipe came out FANTASTIC!! I made two batches of this awesomeness for Memorial day BBQ.

    The pureed ingredients resulted in twice the necessary amount (i.e., 6 cups), but that might have been because we had large produce.

    Now, I just need to make another 22 batches of this recipe to use up the rest of the 7-Up.

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