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Friday, May 25, 2007

Bulgogi and Kalbi/Galbi (Korean Barbecued Beef and Short Ribs)

The Memorial Day weekend is coming up and everyone knows what that means ... barbecue! And I just happened to have some nice barbecue recipes sitting in my queue just for you.
Bulgogi (fire meat) and Kalbi/Galbi (short ribs) (Korean Barbecued Beef and Short Ribs) both use the same marinade. Except that bulgogi is thinly sliced beef, often rib-eye but any cut will do. (Psst! The picture is actually venison but it tastes like beef to me.) And kalbi is short ribs, sliced cross-wise through the bone like you see above or sliced thinly around the bone like it's pictured here.

The meat may be barbecued on a grill or pan-fried. What's really important though is the pureed Asian pear. The pear gives the meat its distinct sweetness, but it also works to tenderize the meat. You can also substitute with any other pear, apples, peaches, nectarines, or kiwis. I'm not sure about whether other fruits will work though. Allow a few hours for the fruit juices to do their work on the meat, and for the marinade to sink in. You can add Korean chili peppers to make spicy bulgogi, which I think works much better on pork.

Bulgogi and Kalbi/Galbi (Korean Barbecued Beef and Short Ribs)

You'll need:
2 pounds rib eye beef, thinly sliced, or short ribs, or any cut of beef or pork really
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon rice wine, or any white wine
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 pear or apple, pureed

If you're making bulgogi, slice the meat as thinly as possible. One trick is to put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to half-freeze it for ease in slicing. Add meat to marinade mixture. Refrigerate for several hours, or overnight. Add some green onion or thinly sliced onions and pan-fry or grill. Serve with rice and kimchee or any other panchan (Korean side dishes), if you have it.

Now, if you want it spicy, just use the above marinade but add as much Korean chili pepper as you can stand.
Or shhhh! You can cheat and buy a jar of hot and spicy marinade. This jar runs about $3-$4 at most Asian supermarkets. I think the hot and spicy marinade works better on pork than beef, but that's up to you. It works much better on pork ribs than the generic American barbecue sauces. I like to slather it on thick and bake the ribs for several hours so the meat is so tender it almost falls off the bone. One jar will season several racks of ribs. Just thickly coat the pork ribs, meaty side down, and bake at 350 degrees for at least 45 minutes. Then flip the ribs, and add a generous coating to the meaty side and bake for at least another 45 minutes.

It should look like this. If you want, you can then place them on the grill to blacken them.

Let the ribs cool down at room temperature for about 15 minutes so the juices will redistribute. Then slice. Does that look tasty?

Serve with rice. Or be a carnivore and devour one rib after another.

You don't believe me that this will result in the most flavorful, most tender ribs ever? Well, you don't have to take my word for it. Enjoy!


  1. I just had ribs for dinner!!! And I'm definitely a carnivore when it come to ribs :p~~~

  2. LOL!! We must be foodie sisters. We even BOTH have a pic of the canned marinade - slightly tilted!! haha!

  3. ive been eating too much ribs. b bought 3 slabs from costco and vegas buffets. were probably gonna buy 3 more sunday. taking advantage of the sale.


  4. I agree on the CJ brand hot and spicy Korean BBQ sauce — it's a base ingredient for many a bbq sauce in my kitchen. I like how on the label they boast an unusually specific 15.8% Korean pear content.

    The CJ brand bulgogi marinade is also very good - it boasts of 16% pear AND apple.

  5. Jaden,
    Oh, we got many recipes in common. :)

    Ribs are always good!

    I agree! I've tried other brands and they just weren't as good.

  6. My recipe is pretty similar except I often use kiwi instead of pear. I learned mine from a Korean roommate. I've heard some people also use Coca-Cola. I'll have to try with pork ribs sometime, I've only tried w/ beef.

  7. Carmen,
    I've heard peach or nectarine works as well. And 7-up. I like the spicy marinade for pork.

  8. I followed the instructions for baking ribs though I only had boneless, country-style ribs to work with. (I personally prefer bone-in ribs with some fat and cartilage!)

    I used the Korean jar marinade and baked the ribs in the oven for an hour each side. Came out flavorful and juicy. I would do this again if I had the time and willpower (the smell during the 2-hour cooking time was torturous!)

  9. Vuthy,
    Gah! I totally need to re-do this post with better pictures.


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