Korean Style Short Ribs (Kalbi)

I was first introduced to Korean barbecue in a Tokyo restaurant in the 1980s. Because high quality beef was very expensive at the time, the plate also had cheaper cuts of pork, beef tongue, and liver. Much to my surprise, it all tasted delicious in sesame soy marinade. We began making it at home, but I always bought bottled marinade. I worked, and was an easy meal; I would marinate the meat in the morning before I left for the office, then in the evening my husband and I would cook it at the table on a one burner gas stove and cast iron grill plate. Now that we have children, it is more convenient to just grill the meat outside.

Over the years I have tried making my own marinade, but I never liked the results. I always preferred the flavor of a bottled imported sauce. It had more sweetness and a concentrated sesame flavor that I found difficult to duplicate on my own. I can’t claim authenticity with this recipe, but I like the results. I have taken elements from about six different recipes. I use an immersion blender to make the marinade, but a regular blender works fine as well. I have also found that partially grinding roasted sesame seeds gives a greater depth of flavor. I like the initial sweet overtones of this marinade that are followed by a bit of heat.

One of my local grocery stores regularly carries good quality flanken style short ribs. I stay away from packages that have a lot of gritty bone particles on the meat. The meat should look clean and not gritty. I rinse the ribs under cold water and pat them dry before marinating. I like to serve this with short grain brown rice.

Korean Style Short Ribs
4-1/2 lbs. flanken style beef short ribs
1/2 c. tamari soy sauce
1/2 c. Coca Cola
1/2 c. corn syrup
1/4 c. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds, partially ground in a spice or coffee grinder
6 scallions, chopped (1/4-1/3 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
1/2 ripe Asian pear, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. jarred fresh chili paste or sambal olek
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Wash and pat ribs dry. Place them in a 2 gallon plastic ziplock bag. Place the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined and there is no sugary residue in the bottom of the blender. Pour marinade over ribs and seal bag shut. Rub marinade around the meat. Place the bag in a 9×13 pan and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours. Turn the bag several times to keep marinade on ribs. When ready to cook, remove ribs from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Preheat grill and grill for 5-7 minutes per side or to desired doneness. It may take a bit longer if ribs are thick. Serves 6-8.


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