Korean BBQ (Kalbi)

Jun 29th, 2008 | By | Category: Appetizer, Asian, BBQ, Korean, Main, Recipe





This past week I was downtown and between meetings and I was left with a few free hours in between.

After scouring Yonge Street for a dinner, I finally settled on having some Korean BBQ. What you have here is beef short ribs that are marinated over night and then quickly grilled over high heat to give you a slightly smoky, sweet and spicy serving of beef that’s best eaten with chopsticks or your hands.

I remember reading Ruth’s post on Korean BBQ and I knew it was time to try my hand at this fantastic beef dish.

Drawing from deep into the bookmarked abyss of recipes, I tried out the marinade as provided by Jen Lee, as shown on Bobby Flay’s Boy Meets Grill.

Now allow me to go on a brief tangent on trying out a recipe from a foreign cuisine. If you’re going to test/try a recipe…may I suggest going to the source or a trusted person in that cuisine?

If I’m looking for THE Italian recipe…I seek a recipe from an Italian. Same goes for Greek food. Does some bloke who’s spent six weeks in Greece and has been brought up eating watercress sandwiches really have a perspective on Greek food?

In the case of Korean BBQ, even a Top Chef like Bobby Flay stepped aside and allowed Jen Lee (Korean gal) to show him the basics of Korean food and some great “mothership” recipes.

I’ve done the same here.

Korean BBQ’s best know dish is Kalbi (pronounced Galbi) and it uses the cut known as beef short ribs.

The easiest route to finding this cut to visit your local Asian market. They aren’t that expensive and one should find them for, at the most $2/lb. When buying these short ribs, look for a lean cut of beef and buy about 8-10 lbs. if serving a family or as part of a party. There’s some bones in there and although they look like alot, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they are eaten!

When I ate the Kalbi at the Korean restaurant…I had a food epiphany and I knew at that moment that I was, er HAD to try and emulate them at home.

This recipe is bang on and although I won’t go through the trouble of making all the accompanying Korean sides…Kalbi will surely make future appearances at summer grill.

A few notes about the recipe: marinate overnight to get the full effect of the flavours and give the meat sufficient time to marinate. As for the pear, you’re using the Asian pear here, looks like a light-brown skinned apple but tastes like a mild pear. Finally, these beef short ribs come thin sliced and have been marinated so, 2-3 minutes per side over a highly heated grill works best.

How do I describe the flavour of these short ribs? How about tender, succulent, sweet, savory from the Soy, spicy from the black and red pepper (paprika). If you like a little more heat, squeeze some Sriracha Sauce into the marinade and always….taste & adjust your marinade before adding the meat into the mix but do include the 7-UP…it’s a must.

Korean BBQ, I love you!

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50 Comments to “Korean BBQ (Kalbi)”

  1. Judy @ No Fear Entertaining says:

    Yummmm! That Korean BBQ looks so good Peter! Even raw the meat looks incredible!

  2. Andy says:

    I love Kalbi. My girlfriend’s Korean grandmother makes it sometimes and it is delicious. I’ve only eaten their boiled kind though, they used to grill it but don’t anymore due to the trouble, but it is still amazing. It’s funny that you mention 7-up, my girlfriend’s grandmother include a can of coke. I haven’t tried making it myself yet, but after reading this I need to.

  3. Lulu Barbarian says:

    Peter this looks absolutely delicious, but…well, I’m just not very good at charcoal grilling. I keep reading about two-level fires, do I need that for these ribs? Or do you just cook them quickly over a hot flame?

  4. Laurie Constantino says:

    We make this all the time – I like to make it the day before I know I’m going to be too busy to make dinner. And if I’m too lazy to start a fire, I cook them inside on a cast iron grill pan. I never get tired of kalbi – great recipe, Peter.

  5. Lulu Barbarian says:

    Okay, I could do it Laurie’s way on a grill pan and I wouldn’t burn it. But I love smoke.

  6. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    Now this is one dish I’ve actually made! I serve it wrapped in lettuce leaves, with a bit of hot sauce poured on.

  7. Christie @ fig & cherry says:

    That looks and sounds truly fabulous. But if I’m firing up the BBQ – the meat has to be Lamb!!! :)

  8. Leah says:

    Okay, 2 questions: 1) what type of pear did you use (Korean? domestic?!), and 2) I noticed on the recipe it just says to ‘cook until desired doneness’. How long would you say you kept these guys on the grill? I have always thought ribs like these had to be slow cooked….am I wrong? They do look divine and I’d love to try them — talk me down from the culinary ledge, Peter!!!

  9. Helen says:

    I totally agree with you Peter, I always get the best recipes from friends – Italian from Italian friends and a great pickle recipe from a Vietnamese friend. All these BBQ recipes are making me drool!

  10. Grace says:

    tender, succulent, sweet, savory, and spicy? um…yes, please. and pour on some more sriracha for me!

  11. Foodycat says:

    It’s a conspiracy. My husband just emailed saying he’d had Korean for lunch and now this! I want some!

  12. glamah16 says:

    Thats one of my favorites at this place here. I love the stuff. Never knew about the 7 UP addition.

  13. Peter M says:

    Judy, for some reason, the raw beef photo caught my attention too!

    Andy, you have to try the grilled version…it’s heaven.

    Lulu, there’s no 2-tier grilling here. These are grilled hot and fast like a thin steak, although they are called ribs…go for it!

    Laurie, I too start the marinade a day ahead…it makes all the difference.

    Lydia, all you folks were keeping Kalbi as a secret…tsk-tsk!

    Christie, practically everything’s better on the grill, YEAH!

    Leah, I’ve amended the post to work in answers to your questions – I think there’s clarity now.

    Helen…exactly – go to the source and from your food – you’ve surrounded yourself with good eaters!

    Grace – SQUIRT!

    Foodycat, no way? Make this at home or go to the Korean eatery and taste for yourself.

    Glam, it’s “da bomb”…so easy to make too!

  14. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  15. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  16. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  17. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  18. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  19. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  20. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  21. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  22. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    I woke up this morning after a weekend of just eating too much red meat, with the thought to cut down on red meat….and now look what you’ve done. All intentions are gone!!!!!

  23. Natashya says:

    Mmmm.. those bbq short ribs look good. I’ll have a couple and a cold beer… or three… to go with it.

  24. Jen of A2eatwrite says:

    Hmmm… cyberspace ate my first comment. We have a wonderful Korean restaurant in town that does these, and everything else, beautifully and authentically, but your version looks so good, that I may well have to try this at home!

  25. Meghan says:

    Peter, you’ve outdown yourself. This looks so delicious….

    I agree about seeking out a source… its a great idea and really teaches you something!

  26. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  27. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  28. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  29. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  30. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  31. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  32. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  33. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  34. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    I’ve always heard good things about Korean BBQ but never had (or even seen) it. From the looks of this, I need to correct this immediately–it looks AMAZING

  35. Sandie says:

    I’ve never tried Korean BBQ either, which puts me in the same camp as Mike…I need to correct this immediately because it does look amazing! I swear, I can almost smell this cooking on the grill as the 3rd photo down puts this post over the top!

  36. Marjie says:

    I love love love ribs! Unfortunately, for a family my size, we look for 25 or more pounds of ribs for a meal. There’s a pair of old Italian butchers down the road, and I love it when they tell me about a “nice” meat – “This is a nice ham, Marjie, you should take it home. It’s a nice ham!” They cut “nice ribs”, too!

  37. Antonio Tahhan says:

    Peter, these look delicious!! I’m a huge fan of Korean food and I actually recall that episode of Boy Meets Grill.
    On a completely random note: I just found out from my maternal grandmother that her grandparents were Greeks!! I dunno what that makes me… probably 1/32nd Greek, but nonetheless, I was still excited to find that out.

  38. Proud Italian Cook says:

    Not to long ago I went to the home of a family of Koreans for a baby shower, all I can say is “what a spread they put out!” They had platters of Korean BBQ, and side dishes that were out of this world!
    Thanks for the memories.

  39. Pam says:

    Peter, you are definitely King of the Grill!

  40. Kevin says:

    That BBQ beef looks really good and sounds tasty!

  41. Cynthia says:

    Great pointers Peter and I can’t wait to actually try this dish.

  42. Peter M says:

    Nina, I hold back on the meat for a bit…we don’t want anyone getting gout!

    Natashya, these ribs are great with some cold brews.

    Jen, these turned out pretty damn close to the Korean joint’s version.

    Meghan, a little common sense goes a long way into sourcing a dish from another cuisine.

    Mike, get on it…ask around town where the Koreans are…wonderful people and fab food.

    Sandie, get on it…perhaps you’ll find a Korean BBQ joint during your upcoming travels.

    Marjie, these beef short ribs are affordable, great finger food and most importantly, deelish!

    Antonio…a little Greek in ya, eh? I should have known with your video monologues…ya got the gift of the gab!

    Marie, I really dug the meal I had last week and I’ll go again until almost sick of Korean BBQ.

    Pam, the grill really can be versatile.

    Kevin, I’m sure you’ve tried Korean before?

    Cynthia…please do…you’ll be well rewarded with a sweet/savory/spicy beef dish.

  43. MEDITERRANEAN KIWI says:

    they look mouth watering

  44. melissa says:

    OH MY! These are awesome. I’ve never tried these on my own, though I should. It’s just that with living in Southern California I have access to some good to great ones at my whim. :) Yum.

  45. Leslie says:

    mmmmm…Finger lickin Good!!!

  46. Lori Lynn says:

    Cannot. Wait. To. Make. This.

    I’ve tried the pre-marinaded ones from Trader Joe’s which are very good, but this will be over the top. Love the 7-UP component. YAY for summer grilling!

  47. kat says:

    Oh wow, ok I have to try this is just sounds so yummy!

  48. Jen Yu says:

    I looooooove galbi and this looks so good :)

  49. Bellini Valli says:

    I agree that you have to go to tyhe experts to find out what it is all about…then it is just trial and error to find what you like.

  50. […] not reinventing the wheel here. Korean food is slowly getting the recognition it so rightly deserves […]

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