These fancy beef patties beef short rib meat are called tteokgalbi (떡갈비), literally translated to rice cake ribs. Don’t expect any rice cakes (tteok, 떡) in the dish. The name comes from the way the minced meat is kneaded and shaped as rice cakes are made in Korea.
This dish hails from the royal court where the cooks minced the rib meat, for the King, for easy eating. Tteokgalbi later became a regional specialty of South Jeolla Province (전라남도). Nowadays, this dish is popular all over the country. Every full course meal (hanjeongsik, 한정식) I had in Korea last year included a version of tteokgalbi, and there are many restaurants specializing in tteokgalbi all over Korea.
Tteokgalbi is made with ground beef short ribs. The meat is separated from the bones, finely minced, and then marinated. Traditionally, the marinated meat is attached back to the rib bones before being cooked. This not only gives the patties their identity of being short rib meat, but also adds a little extra flavor to the meat, but you can simply shape them like burger patties if you like.
Beef short ribs are an expensive cut of meat, so you can substitute with beef chuck and/or brisket. The meat is traditionally hand-minced, but it’s a demanding job. If you don’t want to bother, use a meat grinder (or food processor) or ask your butcher to grind them for you. It will help if you slightly freeze the meat in small pieces before you use a meat grinder or food processor.
You can also use high quality ground beef. It’s now very common in Korea to use ground beef (or pork, or a combination) to make tteokgalbi. These tasty, tender patties can be broiled, grilled or pan-fried. They will be excellent for your outdoor cooking this summer as well!
Tteokgalbi (Korean Short Rib Patties)
- 3 - 4 pounds beef short ribs or 2 pounds beef chuck or brisket
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons rice wine or Mirin
- 3 tablespoons grated Korean/Asian pear or apple grated
- 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 scallions finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- chopped pine nuts for garnish - optional
- Set the oven to broil and preheat. Lay the meat in a broil pan and place it on the top rack of the oven, usually about 6 inches below the broiler. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip them over and cook for an additional 3 -4 minutes until nicely charred. You can also grill over a charcoal or gas grill. Grill over medium to medium high, turning only once, 2 – 3 minutes on each side.