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Galbi or kalbi is a type of gui — or grilled dish — found in Korean barbecue. It is typically made using beef short ribs, as the word “galbi” means “rib” in Korean (though pork ribs or chicken can also be used).
The ribs are marinated in a blend of soy, garlic and sugar, with traditional additions including pear juice, sesame oil, rice wine and hot pepper paste. Other varieties mix in honey, citrus or even lemon-lime soda. Before marinating, the meat is cut in thin slices across the bone, allowing the marinade to penetrate and tenderize. It then gets finished on a griddle or Korean barbecue grill. At “galbi houses,” this is done right at the table over a hot grill.
Galbi is typically served with lettuce, spinach or leafy greens to use as a wrap, along with Korean accouterments including ssamjang (a thick, spicy sauce of fermented bean paste and red chile paste), kimchi (fermented cabbage and vegetables) and other banchan (small side dishes).
This recipe, from Serious Eats, incorporates honey, sesame oil, mirin, Asian pear and Sprite into the typical soy-garlic-sugar mix. The meat gets marinaded for at least one hour or, even better, overnight. For best results, use a charcoal grill.
Galbi or Kalbi (Korean Barbecued Beef Short Ribs)
3 lbs 1/4-inch thick flanken-cut beef short ribs
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup Sprite
1/8 cup mirin
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, minced
1 Asian pear, peeled, cored, and then pureed or crushed
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/8 cup sesame seeds
Whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, honey, sesame oil, Sprite, mirin, garlic, green onions, Asian pear, black pepper and sesame seeds in a medium bowl.
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Place the beef in a large Ziploc bag, pour in the marinade and seal. Toss to evenly distribute the marinade, then open and reseal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least one hour to overnight.
Prepare the grill: 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 gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Place the beef slices on the grill and cook until the meat is seared on both sides and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove from the grill, let rest for 5 minutes and serve.