It's definitely barbecue season! No series of Korean barbecue recipes is complete without one for galbi, marinated beef short ribs. The word galbi literally means "ribs," and the full name of this dish is galbi gui. It is the most popular backyard/outdoor barbecue dish in Korean homes.
Galbi short ribs come in two different cuts — flanken cut (ribs are cut thin across the bones) and English cut (ribs are separated and cut into short lengths). Koreans call the flanken cut "L.A. galbi," named after the city where early Korean immigrants started to use this cut for galbi. While L.A. galbi is convenient and increasingly popular in America, the butterflied English cut is classic for grilled galbi in Korea.
Here, I am reintroducing my recipe using the butterflied English cut. Regardless of which cut is used, short ribs are a tough cut of meat and need to be tenderized for grilling. Traditionally, grated Korean pear is used as a tenderizer, and it also adds a subtle fruity sweetness to the marinade. Korean (or Asian) pears are sweet and juicy, and these days they are widely available here in America.
Properly prepared galbi tastes good without grated pear, but to me, pear takes galbi to a different level. Some people use kiwi, but I would advise against it because it tends to break down the meat too much. Grated onion and alcohol in the marinade also tenderize the meat.
Over the years, I've made this dish countless times for my family and various guests. This relatively forgiving recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, making it perfect for large groups of people. These grilled ribs are so tasty that everyone loves it every time. The smooth balance of sweet and savory flavors is certainly palate pleasing!
*Note: You can also ask your butcher to do this.
**Note: It's best to grill over charcoal or wood charcoal (sootbul), but a gas grill works well, too.
Galbi can also be broiled in the oven. Set the oven to broil and preheat. Lay the meat in a single layer on a broil pan and place about 6 inches below the broiler. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Flip them over and cook until nicely charred, about 3-4 more minutes.
Rinse the ribs and drain. Trim the excess fat. Butterfly the short ribs so the meat is ¼- to ½-inch thick.* You will need a sharp knife. Holding the bone part firmly, slice the meat lengthwise close to the bone almost to the other end (¼- to ½-inch from the edge). Do not cut through. Open it up like a book.
Starting from the middle, run the knife through the meaty part, ¼- to ½-inch from the bottom, almost to the other end. Open it up. Repeat if necessary to open up the meat into a long thin strip. This might take some practice, but it's totally worth it. If this does not work, simply slice the rib meat into ¼- to ½-inch-thick rectangles.
In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients well. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (overnight for best results — the thicker the meat, the longer you'll want to marinate).
Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill over medium-high to high heat.** Grill, turning only once, 2-3 minutes on each side.