Kalbi or Galbi (Korean Short Ribs) – however you want to spell it, it is simply the best way to eat short ribs on the grill. My marinade is a very EASY recipe because everything is done in the blender – no chopping needed!
About Kalbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs) or Galbi 갈비
Kalbi literally means ‘ribs’ in Korean. So there’s So Kalbi 소갈비 (beef ribs), Dak Kalbi 닭갈비 (chicken ribs) and Dweji Kalbi 돼지갈비 (pork ribs). But for some reason, when Koreans say just Kalbi, they most often mean beef ribs and to be more specific, they mean short ribs.
So Kalbi in Korean just equates to this Korean BBQ Short Ribs that are marinated and then grilled. There is a more modern version that’s sometimes called Saeng Kalbi 생갈비 which refers to the same cut that’s not marinated.
Different Cuts of Kalbi
First, to understand which cut from the cow, Korean Kalbi exactly is, you can read more in my Know Your Beef Cut post where I compare Korean vs US beef cuts.But in short, these are the beef ribs #1-#5, cut across 3 bones.
And then even for the beef ribs, there are mainly 2 different cust of Kalbi. The traditional one is where the short rib (with one bone) is sliced thinly across so the meat is fanned out from the bone – this cut is called Pyeon Kalbi 편갈비.
The more recent addition is the LA cut which was started in Los Angeles and now has become available in Korea too. The old-fashioned Pyeon Kalbi cut is a lot more expensive (like $5 more per lb) than the LA cut because it has be be cut by hand. Watch my youtube video at the end of the post to see how I do it.
ways to Grill or Cook Kalbi
- BEST – CHARCOAL or GAS GRILL – Grilling Korean Kalbi on a charcoal BBQ is the most authentic way and the best way to enjoy it.
- GOOD – BROIL – You can also cook ribs in the TOP RACK in the oven, about 4 inches away from the heat source. Grill them on top of a mesh or pan with slots so the fat will drain away. When cooking in your broiler for the first time, you should check your meat OFTEN as every broiler is different and things burn pretty quickly. Here’s a great NYT article on how to use the broiler!
- FINE – STOVE TOP – heat a non-stick pan on medium-high and cook. Wipe away burnt marinade and also fat in between batches.
Kalbi and Me
Kalbi was and still is my ultimate favorite to eat among all the Korean meat dishes. As a kid, I would have really liked to eat this every day but it was quite expensive then so we only got to eat it on special occasions. As an adult living in the US, it’s not so prohibitively expensive as when I was growing up in Korea so I could eat it often but then now I can’t do that because of my health.. you know cholesterol and all that wonderful stuff.. hahaha.
So, I don’t know why I never wrote a separate post just on Kalbi. I wrote a Summer BBQ Party post some time ago and shared a Kalbi marinade recipe there but I just don’t have a good explanation why I never posted a stand-alone one.
But it might be just as well, since this latest recipe for Kalbi marinade uses red wine instead of rice wine, onions instead of kiwi and also uses the blender so I think it’s a good improvement overall in flavor and method.
I will also show you how to grill in the oven using the broiler, in case you don’t want to or can’t grill it on a real BBQ.
Kalbi memories?? Yes….Grilling Kalbi outside in our backyard or at our farm in Icheon… was probably one of the happiest moments of my childhood. You know me, happiness is ALWAYS linked with food..🤣😂🤣I think they were my happiest moments not just because we got to eat the most delicious short ribs BBQ, it was also because I felt the happiness and joy of my whole family as my brother and sisters shared in the excitement and their brilliant ideas on how to make our family BBQ party even more delicious.
“Oh, oh – we need to make some potato salad! The one you made last time! “
“Yeah!! That would go great with the BBQ. Oooh — how about some seafood??”
“Yesss, we should grill some clams as appetizer.. I’ll be in charge of that…I am going to look up a recipe right now!!”
Our conversations would go on and on about what we side dishes we should make and what we should grill. As the youngest, my main job was to eat their creations and tell them how delicious it was. Of course, I wanted to cook too but I was usually told I was too young to help. Sometimes, though, I was allowed to help with the most simple tasks like coating something with flour, mixing a sauce…
Now, I know I shared before that my dad loved to eat good food and was also a wonderful cook. I think my siblings and I inherited his love for food that way. Even as adults, when we had family reunions with our extended families, the most important part of our vacation was food – what we are going to cook and what restaurants we will visit. We would say to each other “Every meal is SO important!! We can’t waste a single meal on something that’s not good!”
Right, so let’s not waste another meal and let’s get started.
NOTE – This marinade is made using a blender which means there’s no chopping required!! It is not the traditional way but the taste is totally authentic and yummy!! If you don’t have a blender, you can just chop all the vegetables finely and mix.
Chef’s tips for Perfect Grilled Korean Short Ribs
- Bits of bone? – if you are using LA style cut (across the bone) short ribs, you may sometimes find that there are bone bits leftover from cutting. Make sure you rinse them under water with your hands.
- Well done or no? – Koreans like to fully cook their meat to well done but if you like your steak rare, you are welcome to grill it to your liking
- Serve it warm – because short ribs are very fatty, it is best to serve it warm right off the grill. When serving a large crowd, I keep the grilled ribs in an electric hot pot on warm or at least warm up the dish that it is served in.
- Too tough? – always test grill a couple pieces and if it’s too chewy or tough, add a splash of diet coke or coke to the marinade. It will almost instantly tenderize it.
- Storing leftovers – you can either freeze leftover marinated Kalbi and use it later or even freeze already grilled Kalbi. Kalbi reheats really well. You cannot overcook Kalbi although you can burn it. 😝
Servings: 4-6 Cooking Time: 1 hrs + 25 min Difficulty: Easy
- 5 lb Kalbi (Korean Short Ribs – LA Cut)
- 1st blend
- 1 medium onion (about 4 oz/120 g)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2nd blend
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 cup sugar
- 6-8 large garlic cloves (40 g)
- 3 green onions
- 4 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbs green plum syrup (optional) – how to make Green Plum Syrup (Maesilcheong 매실청)
- Fill a bowl with water and add short rib pieces to the bowl. Pick up each rib piece and rinse under running water to wash off any bone bits that may exist. Trim any chunks of fat but most of the fat will melt away during grilling time. These ribs were good quality ones with minimal fat. Drain washed ribs.
VIDEOS on HOW TO MAKE KALBI
Watch a quick short video (2+ min video without narration) –
Here’s my fully narrated Youtube video of how to make Kalbi Korean BBQ Short Ribs at home! I also show how to make the thinly butterflied kalbi cut at home so you don’t have to pay mega bucks to buy the most expensive cut!
If you have tried this or any other recipe on my blog then please rate the recipe (☆☆☆☆☆ at the top right of the recipe card) and leave me a comment to let me know how you like it! Every 5 star helps me a lot and I would also love to hear from you! 😍
Kalbi – Korean Short Ribs Blender Marinade
- 5 lb Korean Short Ribs – LA Cut
- 1 medium onion (about 4 oz / 120 g)
- 1/2 cup water
- Rinse ribs under water to remove any bits of bone. Drain. Trim any chunks of fat but most of the fat will melt away during grilling time. These ribs were good quality ones with minimal fat. Drain washed ribs.
- While ribs are draining, cut onion into chunks or just half, if onion is small. Cut green onions into shorter lengths to fit into the blender. Here’s all the ingredients for the marinade to go into the blender.
- In a blender or chopper, add onion and 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth.
- Add remaining 1 cup soy sauce, 1/2 c red wine, 1 c sugar, garlic cloves, green onions, 4 T sesame oil, 1 T sesame seeds, 1 tsp pepper and optionally 2 T green plum syrup (if you want to).
- Blend until smooth.
- In a container, add Kalbi pieces and the marinade. Mix everything so each piece is evenly coated.
- Let ribs marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hr to overnight. If you are in a hurry, even 30 minutes will work.
- Take ribs out of the fridge and heat your oven broiler for 5 minutes. Lay out your Kalbi on a metal grill pan and broil it on the top rack for 4 minutes for the first side. Then turn it over and grill another 3 minutes on the other side.
- Serve immediately with rice and other Korean side dishes.
Tips & Notes:
- By TOP RACK in the oven, I mean about 4 inches away from the heat source. When cooking Kalbi in your broiler for the first time, you should check your meat OFTEN as every broiler is different and things burn pretty quickly.
- Cooking time in the broiler is for when short ribs are pretty cold, straight out of the fridge. If ribs were left at room temperature, it will need less time.
- Serve with rice, ssam, ssamjang, kimchi and radish salad.