You know it’s a special occasion when my mom fires up the grill. Rain or snow, she will grill up pounds of meat for platters of glistening galbi gui. Galbi gui, or more commonly referred to as galbi, uses rib meat. Galbi literally means “rib” in Korean. The meat is marinated in a soy-based marinade with hints of sweetness. And of course, each family has its own “secret” recipe.
A popular cut of rib is called L.A. galbi which is flanken cut into 1/4″ thick slices (see below). This cut purportedly makes the rib easier to eat and more tender. It can be found in your local Korean market. Traditionally (and what my mom does) the English cut is butterflied resulting in a 1/4″ thick cut unfurled from the bone. When I don’t have time to drive to HMart, I’ve bought boneless short rib at my local grocery store and cut it into 1/4″ thick slices at home (see below again). If you opt to do it this way, place the short rib in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes to firm them up a bit. Careful not to freeze the beef; you just want to firm up the beef to make it easier to cut into thin slices.
Grilling the beef is ideal, but it can also be broiled in the oven. If you’re using the broiler in your oven, broil the first side for about 5-7 minutes and the other side for about 2-3 minutes for medium doneness. Just keep an eye on the beef so that it doesn’t burn.
Galbi is typically served with red leaf lettuce, perilla leaves, or other leafy vegetables to wrap the meat, and smeared with a dab of ssamjang (sauce made up of fermented bean paste and red pepper paste). I include a recipe for simple ssamjang below, but you can also buy the “bottled” version of the sauce at your local Korean market. Happy grilling!
Yields about 4-6 servings
3 pounds beef rib meat
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons sake
1 – In a food processor or blender, add the onion and garlic with about 1/4 cup of water. Pulse until pureed.
2 – I prefer to marinate the beef in a gallon-size plastic storage bag, but a bowl or a flat storage container will suffice.
Tip: If you’re using a bag, place the bag in a tall container to make mixing the marinade easier and without having to add another dirty dish to the pile in the sink.
After you’ve selected your marinating vessel, mix together the onion/garlic puree, soy sauce, 1/4 cup of water, brown sugar, and sake. Add the beef and make sure every every inch is coated. Marinate for at least 2 hours, and overnight if you have time.
3 – Heat the grill on high. Grill for about 5-7 minutes on each side for medium doneness.
4 – Serve and eat right away!
2 Tablespoons dwaenjang (fermented soybean paste)
2 Tablespoons gochujang (fermented red pepper paste)
2 stalks green onions, sliced thinly crosswise
1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together until combined. Add more sesame seed oil if desired. The consistency should be that of a really thick batter.
I missed an awesome grilling workshop sponsored by Land O Lakes®, but here are a few grilling tips that they shared for the grilling season. I need to work on NOT micromanaging my grill!
Grilling DO’s and DON’Ts
- Start with a clean grill. Meat is less likely to stick to clean grates.
- Apply nonstick spray before turning on the grill or coat with a light coat of olive or canola oil.
- Use a meat thermometer. Take the guesswork out of grilling foods to the right temperature.
- Take food off of the grill a few minutes before it reaches the desired temperature. Food will continue to cook after it is taken off the grill.
- Choose the best ingredients for the grill.
- Puncture or press on the meat. You’ve all seen people flattening burgers with a spatula—don’t do it! This squeezes all the juices out.
- Micromanage the meat. To get the best char marks, flip just once. Also, let the grill do its job. Don’t open the lid too often. If you’re looking, it’s not cooking!
- Leave the grill unattended. A lonely grill is an unsafe grill.
- Allow children and pets near the grill. It’s fun to grill as a family, but maintain adult supervision and allow them to watch from a safe distance.
- Dispose of hot coals. Let them cool completely before disposing in a metal container.