LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)

1 week ago 10



Make Korean BBQ short ribs at home using my tried-and-tested recipe for the perfect galbi marinade. You can grill the marinated short ribs over charcoal, broil them in the oven, or pan-fry.

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You can enjoy a delicious Korean barbecue at home. It’s all about the marinade and good quality meat, and it’s easy to prepare! Galbi (or Kalbi, 갈비), Korean beef short ribs, is one of the most popular barbecue dishes in Korean homes, especially for special occasions and gatherings. Here’s my tried-and-tested recipe for the perfect galbi marinade!

Marinated in a perfectly balanced sweet and savory sauce, the galbi meat is tender and succulent while still being nicely browned and caramelized on the outside.

Beef short ribs

As I previously explained in another galbi post, there are two different cuts for beef short ribs. The first one is known as English cut, for which the ribs are separated and cut into short lengths. In Korean cooking, this cut is used for galbi jjim (braised) or butterflied for grilling.


The other one is the flanken cut, for which the ribs are cut thin across the bones. To Koreans, the flanken cut is also known as “LA
galbi,” supposedly named after the city where early Korean immigrants started to use this cut to make galbi gui (grilled short ribs). LA galbi is now highly popular even in Korea.

Galbi marindade

These days, people use all sorts of things to tenderize short ribs, which are a tough cut of meat, including kiwi, pineapple, cola, etc. My favorite is Korean/Asian pear, which is a traditional ingredient used for galbi. It adds subtle sweetness to the ribs while working as a tenderizer. Grated onion and alcohol, in the marinade, also tenderize the meat. The resulting ribs have a smooth balance of sweet and savory flavors! 

If you cannot find a Korean pear, use an apple instead. Korean maesilcheong (매실, green plump syrup) or apple or pineapple juice (about 1/4 cup) can be a good substitute for Korean pear. If using kiwi, use a small amount so you don’t over-tenderize the meat as kiwi is a very strong tenderizing agent. I’d use a half of a kiwi (1/3 if large) for every 2 pounds.

The traditional flavor profile of the Korean galbi marinade is mildly sweet and savory – not too sweet and too salty. If you’re concerned about the sugar, use more fruits or 100% fruit juice (or your choice of sweetener) and reduce or omit the sugar.

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Don’t rush the marinating part! The ribs should be marinated for at least 6-8 hours. Overnight to 24 hours for best results. The thicker the meat, the longer you’ll want to marinate.

Cooking LA galbi

Grilling: You can grill LA galbi on a charcoal or gas grill or a grill pan over the stovetop. In Korea, they are often grilled over wood charcoal (sootbul, 숯불). Preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Grill the short ribs, 2-3 minutes on each side. 

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Broiler: To broil galbi in the oven, set the oven to broil and preheat. Lay the meat in a single layer in a broiling pan and place it on the top rack of the oven, usually about 6 inches below the broiler. Cook until the ribs are slightly charred and caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip them over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Watch closely not to burn them.

Pan-frying: Because of the sugar and fruit in the marinade, the ribs can easily burn in the pan. The cooking technique here is almost like a quick braising. Extra liquid keeps the meat from burning. The ribs soak up all that sauce so they are very flavorful and tender. This cooking method is especially good when you don’t have enough time to marinate. 

Preheat a large non-stick pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Lay the short ribs in a single layer, 4 or 5 ribs depending on the size of the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. When the pan is getting dry. Add the marinade through a strainer. Flip them over and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes until all the sauce is gone and the ribs are nicely browned.

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What to serve with

I often serve the short ribs with fresh kimchi salad type of dishes, such as fresh kimchi or bok choi kimchi salad. Japchae always goes well with meat dishes too. Pickled dishes, such as pickled garlic and kkaennip kimchi, also complement the fatty meat especially well. Check out my collection of 15 Korean Vegetable Side Dishes for more.

Last but not least, as with any Korean BBQ, serve with red or green leaf lettuce in which to wrap the meat, along with ssamjang (쌈장) or simply gochujang. Perilla leaves (kkaennip, 깻잎) and crown daisy (ssukgat, 쑥갓) are great vegetables to add to your wraps, if available. Pa muchim (scallion salad) is also excellent with any Korean BBQ meat. 

More Korean BBQ recipes

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LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)

Main Course

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Marinating: 8 hours

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 - 4 pounds cross-cut beef short ribs (flaken or LA galbi cut) about ⅓ - inch thick

Marinade

  • 1/2 Korean/Asian pear (or 1 apple), grated (see note 1 for substitutes) You can blend the pear (or apple) together with the next 3 ingredients in a mini/regular blender.
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 plump cloves)
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger (about 1 inch chunk)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 -4 tablespoons sugar You can reduce sugar and add more pear or maesilcheong (Korean plum syrup) to taste - see note 1
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup cooking rice wine (Korean matsul mirim or mirin)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 scallions finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds optional

Instructions

For the ribs:

  • Rinse the ribs to wash off bone dust and remove some blood on the surface. See note 2. Drain well. Pound the meat lightly with a meat tenderizer, or stretch it out with your hands. This second part helps tenderize the meat, but you can skip it if you want.

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For the marinade:

  • Blend the pear (or apple) together with the onion, garlic, and ginger in a mini/regular blender. Mix all the marinade ingredients well in a large bowl or container.

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  • Add the meat to the marinade and coat each rib with the marinade. Marinate the meat for 6-8 hours (overnight for best results). Flip them over half way through. The thicker the meat, the longer you’ll want to marinate.

    DSC8824 768x513 - LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)

Cooking the ribs

  • Grilling: Preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Grill the short ribs, turning only once, 2-3 minutes on each side. You can use charcoal or wood charcoal (soot bul) grill, gas grill or a grill pan over the stove top.

    LA Galbi Recipe 3 - LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)

  • Broiling in the oven: Set the oven to broil and preheat. Lay the meat in a single layer on a broiling pan and place it on the top rack of the oven, usually about 6 inches below the broiler. Cook until the ribs are slightly charred and caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip them over and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes. Watch closely not to burn them.

  • Pan-frying: Preheat a large non-stick pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Lay the short ribs in a single layer, 4 or 5 ribs depending on the size of the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. When the pan is getting dry. Add the marinade through a strainer. Flip them over and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes until all the sauce is gone and the ribs are nicely browned. See note 3.

    6 x 4 in 24 768x512 - LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)

Notes

  1. If you cannot find Korean pears, use an apple instead. Korean maesilcheong (매실, green plump syrup) or apple or pineapple juice (about 1/4 cup) can be a good substitute for Korean pear. If using kiwi, use a small amount so you don’t over-tenderize the meat as kiwi is a very strong tenderizing agent. I'd use a half of a kiwi (1/3 if large) for every 2 pounds. The traditional flavor profile of the Korean galbi marinade is mildly sweet and savory - not too sweet and too salty. If you're concerned about the sugar, use more fruits or 100% fruit juice (or your choice of sweetener) and reduce or omit the sugar.
  2. You can soak them in water for about 20 minutes to further remove the blood. It's a Korean technique to remove excess blood for cleaner tasting ribs. 
  3. Because of the sugar and fruit in the marinade, the ribs can easily burn in the pan. The cooking technique here is almost like a quick braising. Extra liquid keeps the meat from burning. The ribs soak up all that sauce so they are very flavorful and tender. This cooking method is especially good when you don't have enough time to marinate. 

This LA galbi recipe was originally posted on this blog back in August 2009 and updated over the years. Here, I’ve updated this time-tested recipe with more information and new photos.

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