Galbi (Korean Grilled Short Ribs)
I used to think beef short ribs were reserved for the likes of smoking and braising only in order to render them tender and edible. Then one day I tried grilling short ribs like a steak and my perception of this super beefy, delicious cut was forever changed. Those short rib "steaks" were some of the best beef to come off my grill—intensely flavored with a pleasant chew akin to a perfectly medium-rare New York strip. It took me years to stumble upon this revelation, but Koreans have long been on the grilled short rib train with their version—galbi.
So why did I never think of short ribs as grilling material before? It's due to all the fat and connective tissue found in them. During a long, slow cook, these break down and leave the meat nothing but tender, but when cooked hot and fast, they remain and can render the meat tough and chewy. While I found my assumptions for this cut were false using my previous cooking method, galbi deals with potential chewiness in its own way...
With an Asian pear. What I've read is that the pear here acts as a tenderizer, assisting in delivering the right chew to the thinly cut flanken short ribs. Without doing any side-by-side testing, I can't vouch for this being truth, but since the pear makes up a large part of the marinade, it seemed to be the right move to start my recipe off with one.
To assemble the marinade I first pulsed the pear, garlic, and scallions together in a food processor until fully chopped. I then added in soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, mirin, sesame oil, and black pepper and pulsed again until everything was well combined. Finally I tossed in a tablespoon of sesame seeds and gave a very quick pulse just to distribute them throughout.
Next I placed the short ribs in a Ziploc bag, poured in the marinade, sealed, and tossed to distribute evenly. I then transferred the bag to the fridge and let the meat marinate overnight. The thinly cut beef doesn't actually need all that much time though and a minimal four hour soak should suffice here if you can't prep the day prior as I did.
The next day I fired up my grill with an entire chimney full of coals. Once lit, I cooked the beef right away while the heat was at its hottest—I wanted to get a great sear without cooking the meat for too long. With this intense heat, it only took a couple minutes per side for the ribs to turn a beautiful deep brown with nice charring all over.
Once done, I transferred them to a serving platter, let them rest a few minutes, then garnished with scallions and sesame seeds and served. These ribs packed in a ton of flavor—the fatty beef itself did a lot of the work, but the soy heavy marinade gave them a great savory quality while the sugars added a light touch of sweetness. They weren't as tender as the medium-rare short ribs I had made previously, but they were still not the tough and chewy beef I once feared I was destined for when grilling short ribs. This just further goes to prove that short ribs need not be relegated to braises and slow smokes only, they're a magical cut that work over high heat too.
Galbi (Korean Grilled Short Ribs)
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Inactive 4 Hours
- Cook 5 Minutes
- Total 4 Hours 15 Minutes
- 1 Asian pear, peeled, cored and quartered
- 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 scallions, roughly chopped, plus 1 additional scallion finely sliced for garnish
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup rice wine
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 3 lbs 1/4-inch thick flanken cut beef short ribs
- Place pear, garlic, and 3 scallions in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add in soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, mirin, sesame oil, and black pepper and pulse to combine. Add in sesame seeds and pulse once to distribute. Place short ribs in a large resealable bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, and place in refrigerator and let marinate 4 hours to overnight.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill short ribs over high heat, turning occasionally, until well seared all over, about 5 minutes total. Transfer short ribs to platter and let rest for up to 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions and sesames; serve immediately.
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Outdoor Grilling Asian pear, interesting. The recipe looks delicious. I will have to test this out on the family soon. Must investigate galbi.
Dylan I've made this recipe a couple times now and the marinade is amazing. Tastes exactly like it should. One thing I'd suggest that isn't mentioned in your recipe though is to pound out the short ribs. I buy mine from an asian market so they are already cut pretty thin but I like to use the flat side of a meat pounder to get them really nice and thin. Makes them even less chewy and at least for me really improved them.