Oh how time flies, don’t we all say it? This past couple of weeks have been busily engaged between Back to School for my grandson, the J-Dude, and then, after the morning bus stop drop-off helping Mom move into a new place now only twenty minutes away and just around the corner from Aunt Betty. Looking back, in less than a couple months it will have been a full year since walking into the professionally set-up kitchens of the Hospitality Division at Drexel University, joining Chef John Boswell and the other students for the semester long course on Korean Food, a culinary program overseen through the Ministry of Korean Culture of South Korea.
Having been familiar with a broad range of Korean foods for near thirty years, upon taking the class, naturally I already knew that Korean cuisine is about much more than select dishes of Barbecue. Still, one thought in my mind by semesters end remained unchanged: Korean Barbecue really is a terrific way to introduce people to Korean foods, in particular, dishes like Galbi, Grilled Korean Short Ribs. Since temperatures in much of the country continue to blaze in a version of what used to be referred to as ‘Indian Summer’ whose notation was meant to imply extended hot days and temperatures, many folks even beyond the tailgaters are continuing to fire up the grills so I thought it would be a good time to share Galbi one of my favorite Korean BBQ dishes. Another meant to imply is that the actual Korean title of this dish is Soe-galbigui and lest it get lost in translation, the title Galbi in the US is likely the easier way for Americans to identify, pronounce, and remember the dish.
A pricier cut than perhaps the more commonly known thin top sirloin or other type meat strips of Beef Bulgogi as the first Korean BBQ experience, the thinly cut, bone- in rib takes on an almost sweet flavor, in part due to the caramelized flavors of sugars, including pureed Korean pear combined with brown or granulated sugar used in the marinade process. You can eat these straight off the grill with your fingers, or you can cut them in half, holding the pieces with chopsticks nibbling your way around the bone.
As with all versions of Korean Barbecue from beef and chicken to pork, your ‘meat on fire’ the translated meaning of the Korean Barbecue, ‘Bulgogi’ rather than actually referring to a particular cut of beef, is always served alongside a soup, rice, and a varied selection of small dishes called banchan which also presents a couple of commonly identified kimchi varieties, including the more spicy fermented cabbage and a similar prepared version prepared using daikon radish.
One of the fun nicknames by the end of the Korean Cuisine course was called the ‘Holy Trinity’ referring to the three common ingredients found in most every Korean dish, scallions, ginger, garlic. This easily simplifies one mystery huh? The recipes used in the Korean Class Cuisine are from the cookbook: “The Beauty of Korean Food: With 100 Best Loved Recipes” whose text was prepared by the Institute of Traditional Korean Food. Although translated, throughout the year I have been tediously going through and re-writing the recipes to share with you (and perhaps even a little posterity for my Korean daughters) so that they both respectfully adhere to the traditional Korean dishes, while at the same time provide portion amounts designed for families along with ‘English speak’ easier to follow along preparation descriptions for all cooking levels. Soe-galbigui. Galbi, Grilled Korean Short Ribs. Mashikeh-Mogoseyo. Enjoy Your Meal.
- 16 thin cut beef short ribs bone in, around 5 1/2 pounds (this cut of meat may be found at Korean Markets or many International or Asian Markets)
- 2-3 Korean Pears, peeled, cut in half, seeds removed, then whizzed to a puree in blender or food processor, then transferred to a bowl
- 4 tablespoons mirin, rice wine
- 1 onion, quartered. Puree one quarter of the onion in a food processor or blender, transfer to a large glass mixing bowl, cut the remaining 3/4 of the onion into julienne sized pieces and set aside
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1-1 1/2 tablespoons sesame salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 scallions, minced, including green part, plus 2 scallions cut into thin lengthwise strips, reserved for garnish
- 4 tablespoons pine nuts, pounded to a powder (optional
- Place the ribs into a container long and deep enough to hold the ribs with the marinade. Pour the mirin (rice wine) into the bowl with the pureed Korean Pear, stir, then pour mixture over the ribs and mix well throughout to cover the meat, chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, into the bowl with the pureed onion, add the soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, green onion, garlic, black pepper, sesame salt and sesame oil, stir well. Remove meat that is tenderizing in the refrigerator and pour in the marinade, combining well to cover all the meat pieces, cover with plastic wrap. Return meat to refrigerator and continue marinating at least two hours. One hour before grilling remove ribs and bring to room temperature. Ladle a few large scoops of the marinade into a pan, bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes longer. Generously grease grill grates, preheat grill at medium to high heat. Place ribs onto grill and grill 2-3 minutes being careful to prevent burning from the sugar. Turn ribs over and baste with the boiled marinade.Depending on the heat of your grill cook ribs another 2-4 minutes, then remove to a tray for serving. Sprinkle Grilled Galbi with the remaining scallion strips, ground pine nuts if using. Serve alongside rice and a selection of banchan, including kimchi.