Make Korean BBQ short ribs at home using my tried-and-tested recipe for the perfect galbi marinade. You can grill the marinated short ribs over charcoal, broil them in the oven, or pan-fry.
You can enjoy a delicious Korean barbecue at home. It’s all about the marinade and good quality meat, and it’s easy to prepare! Galbi (or Kalbi, 갈비), Korean beef short ribs, is one of the most popular barbecue dishes in Korean homes, especially for special occasions and gatherings. Here’s my tried-and-tested recipe for the perfect galbi marinade!
Marinated in a perfectly balanced sweet and savory sauce, the galbi meat is tender and succulent while still being nicely browned and caramelized on the outside.
Beef short ribs
As I previously explained in another galbi post, there are two different cuts for beef short ribs. The first one is the English cut, for which the ribs are separated and cut into short lengths. The English cut is used for galbi jjim (braised) or butterflied for grilling.
The second one is the flanken cut, for which the ribs are cut thin across the bones. To Koreans, the flanken cut is also known as “LA galbi,” supposedly named after the city where early Korean immigrants started to use this cut to make galbi gui (grilled short ribs). LA galbi is now highly popular even in Korea.
These days, people use all sorts of things to tenderize short ribs, which are a tough cut of meat, including kiwi, pineapple, cola, etc. My favorite is Korean/Asian pear, which is a traditional ingredient used for galbi. Grated onion and alcohol, in the marinade, also tenderize the meat. These ribs have a smooth balance of sweet and savory flavors!
If you cannot find Korean pears, use an apple instead. Korean maesilcheong (plump syrup) or apple or pineapple juice can be a good substitute for Korean pear. If using kiwi or pineapple, use a small amount so you don’t over tenderize the meat as these are very strong tenderizing agents.
For convenience, you can blend the fruit, onion, garlic and ginger together in a mini blender.
Don’t rush the marinating part! The ribs should really be marinated for at least 6 – 8 hours. Overnight to 24 hours is better. The thicker the meat, the longer you’ll want to marinate.
Cooking LA galbi
It’s best to grill LA galbi over charcoal or wood charcoal (sootbul, 숯불), but a gas grill or a grill pan over the stove top works well too. I sometimes broil them in the oven or simply pan-fry.
To broil galbi in the oven, set the oven to broil and preheat. Lay the meat in a single layer in a broiling pan and place it on the top rack of the oven, usually about 6 inches below the broiler. Cook until the ribs are slightly charred and caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip them over and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes. Watch closely not to burn them.
What to serve with
I often serve the short ribs with fresh kimchi salad type of dishes, such as fresh kimchi or bok choi kimchi salad. Japchae always goes well with meat dishes too. Still can’t decide? Check out my collection of 15 Korean Vegetable Side Dishes.
Last but not least, as with any Korean BBQ, serve with red or green leaf lettuce in which to wrap the meat, along with ssamjang (쌈장) or simply gochujang. Perilla leaves (kkaennip, 깻잎) and crown daisy (ssukgat, 쑥갓) are great vegetables to add to your wraps, if available.
More Korean BBQ recipes
LA Galbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs)Main Course
- 3 - 4 pounds cross-cut beef short ribs about ⅓ - inch thick
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar You can reduce sugar and add more pear or maesilcheong (Korean plum syrup) to taste - see note 1
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup cooking rice wine (Korean matsul mirim or mirin)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 Korean/Asian pear, grated (see note 1 for a substitute) You can blend the pear together with the next 3 ingredients.
- 1/2 medium onion, grated
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 plump cloves)
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger (about 1 inch chunk)
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds optional
For the ribs:
- Rinse the ribs to wash off bone dust, and drain well. Pound the meat lightly with a meat tenderizer, or stretch it out with your hands. This step helps tenderize the meat, but you can skip it if you want.
For the marinade:
- Mix all marinade ingredients well. Marinate the meat for 6 – 8 hours (overnight for best results). The thicker the meat, the longer you’ll want to marinate.
Cooking the ribs
- Preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Grill the short ribs, turning only once, 2 – 3 minutes on each side. It’s best to grill over charcoal or wood charcoal (soot bul), but a gas grill or a grill pan over the stove top works well too. (See note 2 for the oven broiling method.)
- If you cannot find Korean pears, use an apple instead. Korean maesilcheong (매실, plump syrup) or apple or pineapple juice (about 1/4 cup) can be a good substitute for Korean pear. If using kiwi or pineapple, use a small amount so you don’t over-tenderize the meat as these are very strong tenderizing agents.
- To broil galbi in the oven, set the oven to broil and preheat. Lay the meat in a single layer on a broiling pan and place it on the top rack of the oven, usually about 6 inches below the broiler. Cook until the ribs are slightly charred and caramelized, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip them over and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes. Watch closely not to burn them.
This LA galbi recipe was originally posted on this blog back in August 2009. Here, I updated this time-tested recipe with new photos and a recipe card.