|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 34g||43%|
|Saturated Fat 14g||72%|
|Total Carbohydrate 21g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||9%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||17%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Galbi, Korean for short ribs, is the epitome of Korean BBQ. Many western cultures consider short ribs to be chewy and tough, requiring a long-cooking process such as braising to become tender. However, galbi can be enjoyed cooked over the grill because the meat is sliced very thin.
What's the Difference Between Galbi and Bulgogi?
The main difference betweeb galbi and bulgogi is the cut of the beef. Bulgogi is mainly made with thinly sliced beef (like cheese steak cuts) and is only marinated for a short period of time (about 30 minutes). Also, in most cases, bulgogi is cooked on a stovetop, often with vegetables. Galbi only indicates short ribs which are typically grilled. That said, you can use the galbi marinade for bulgogi.
What Cut of Beef to Use for Galbi
The Korean version of galbi is a three to four-inch-long short rib that has been butterflied, and then scored in a diamond pattern that further lengthens and tenderizes the meat, a laborious task.
The version we see in the US is known as L.A.-style galbi, as it was the Korean immigrants who settled in Los Angeles who found the thin short ribs cut laterally across the bones were much easier to source and took much less time to achieve tenderness. This short rib cut was exported back to Korea for its ease of use but the same delicious taste. Despite the different look of the cuts, one thing remains the same: the sweet and savory marinade!
What Ingredients Are in Galbi?
This recipe is a blend of two recipes in my cookbook, Everyday Korean. I modified the recipe and created a truly easy version, using ingredients that can be found in just about any grocery store in America.
Koreans use fruit—mainly Korean pears or apples—to add sweetness in a lot of recipes while using less sugar but also achieving a more dynamic layered sweetness. Here, we use ripe bosc pear to tenderize the meat and add layered sweetness along with the sugar. Then we add usual suspects of Korean flavors like soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. To make life easier, I use a blender to mix everything together.
I have a fond memory of L.A-style galbi when I first moved to the US (East Lansing, Michigan) when I was 11. I spoke little English, but I still remember all the kids in the neighborhood congregating near our apartment when my mom started grilling galbi. She cut the galbi using scissors along each bone.
We all rushed to pick it up by the bone and bit off the tender yummy, slightly charred galbi. With mouthfuls of delicious meat, we all grinned with grease all over our lips and licked our fingers. After that evening, the parents of the kids who feasted on galbi brought us homemade cherry pie and wine as a thank you. It was one of my very first moments witnessing how delicious food can bring people together.
How To Cook Galbi in the Oven
To cook galbi in the oven, preheat the oven to 475 F and then switch to broil. Place a rack on the second highest setting. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the galbi on the sheet without crowding. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the surface has lost most of the red color.
Flip the meat. Place the rack on the highest setting. Cook for another 5 minutes. Make sure you pay attention for the last 2 minutes, because all ovens are slightly different. Cook a few minutes more to achieve the doneness you like. I like the meat to have a slight char.
Tips for Making Galbi
- Scale it up — This recipe can be doubled or tripled for large parties. Just make sure not to marinate the meat over a day. Because the short ribs contain bones, the blood from the bones can be released into the marinade and can change the flavor. The marinade can also cause the meat to become mushy if left too long.
- Save the marinade — The remaining marinade can be strained and boiled to create sauce to be brushed on the galbi or for a different use afterwards. The reason for boiling is to remove any bacteria and straining is to remove any chunky bits to create a thick luscious sauce. I find that galbi doesn't need extra sauce on it, because it has been marinated. So I save the thickened sauce in a jar in the fridge and brush it on when I make grilled vegetables, tofu, or chicken. Do not brush it on before cooking the vegetables or protein, because it will burn. I recommend warming up the sauce a bit and then brushing it on in the last few minutes of cooking or on the finished product for enhanced flavor. Another favorite application of this sauce is to drizzle over simple egg fried rice.
- Boneless short rib tip — Costco has boneless short ribs. I find them a bit too thick to use as-is. The best approach is to slice them in half to achieve about 1/4 inch thickness, and then tenderize the meat with the back of the knife or a meat tenderizer.
- How to select short ribs — When I select galbi meat I look for bones that are flat and long oval shaped vs. thick and wide bones or small and circular bones. In Korea, galbi meat from rib bones 4, 5, and 6 are considered the most delicious.
- Not all soy sauce is the same — In terms of soy sauce, I cannot emphasize enough that not all soy sauces are made equal—using soy sauce from the country of recipe origin is crucial. In this case, I recommend using a low-sodium version from Korea or Japan (this recipe was tested with Kikkoman low-sodium soy sauce). If you have a difficult time finding the low-sodium soy sauce, dilute it with 2 parts soy sauce and 1 part filtered water.
- Make ahead — You can make the marinade a day or two ahead of time.
"The ribs were easy to prepare, and the flavors were a perfect balance between savory and sweet. To serve, cut the ribs into crosswise pieces. Bring the other ingredients to the table and let your family or guests build their own stuffed lettuce leaves. Garnish with scallions and black sesame seeds if you like." —Diana Andrews
1 large ripe bosc pear, 1 medium apple, or 1/4 kiwi peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
2 medium scallions, coarsely chopped
5 to 6 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup light brown or granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fish or oyster sauce
1 tablespoon mirin, optional
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds flanken-cut short ribs
Cooked white rice, for serving
Lettuce leaves, for serving
Perilla leaves, for serving, optional
Kimchi and other banchan, for serving
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Make the marinade. Add the pear, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, mirin, if using, sesame oil, and black pepper to a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.
Place a large resealable plastic bag in a large bowl. Pour the marinade into the bag. Set aside.
Tenderize the beef by using the back of the knife or a meat tenderizer to gently pound the meat around the bones. Flip the meat and repeat until the meat appears to have doubled in size.
Place the meat in the marinade. Massage the marinade into the meat to coat evenly, seal the bag, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 20 hours.
30 minutes before cooking, take the meat out of the fridge and remove it from the marinade, allowing excess marinade to drip off.
Preheat the grill to about 500 F, or prepare a hot charcoal grill fire and cook the meat, flipping frequently, over direct heat until it is done to your liking, 15 to 18 minutes. It should be well-browned and lightly charred in spots.
Serve with rice, lettuce leaves, perilla leaves, if using, kimchi, and other banchan to make it a true Korean BBQ experience.
How to Store
Galbi is best eaten the day it is made, but you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Wrap them in foil and reheat in a 350 F oven until heated through.
- The marinate is absolutely versatile—I have used it in marinating skirt steak, flank steak, chicken thighs, and thinly sliced pork steaks.
- If you don’t have pears, you can use apples, too. If you find Korean pears, definitely use those. My mother used kiwi, because it contains enzymes that tenderize meat. But be aware NOT to use more than 1/4 kiwi, because it can really disintegrate the meat into pasty mush.