I love it when a dish comes together so much easier than it looks.  For the first time, and with guidance from my Mom, I made galbi-jjim, a traditional Korean dish served at special occasions, or rather to me, just really tasty meat on a bone that works as a great accompaniment to steamed rice to soak up the sweet ginger infused soy sauce.

Short ribs are tough cut, so the best way to treat it is to braised or stew over low heat for a long enough time to tenderize the meat.  Tonight, however, without the luxury of hours before dinner, I was surprised to hear that my mom only cooks it for about 45 minutes after treating the meat to a couple of parboiling steps, in order to remove impurities and some fat.

The braising liquid is very simple being primarily soy sauce sweetened with a little sugar and aromatic ginger and garlic.  The vegetables also add more sweetness and depth, and colour and texture contrast to the dish.  My favorite is the Korean turnip, almost as good as the short ribs (!) – I love the mild, sweet flavour inside contrasted by the dark, savory juices soaked up in the outer edges.

There is just something very rustic and homey about throwing things in a pot that come out so delicious.  And not bad for just over an hour cooking time.  The result is short ribs that is pulled away from the bone, but still held together.  Really tasty served up Korean style as a banchan, cut up into little pieces with scissors at the table.

Korean Braised Beef Short Ribs

It’s very important to use high quality ingredients, starting with the short ribs.  The meat should have some marbling without too much fat on the outer edges (this can be trimmed off), and about 1.5″-2″ meat on the bone.  The soy sauce should be the brewed kind, eg. Kikkoman, and vegetables should be fresh.  I used an old carrot in the fridge, and well, it turned out that it tasted just like an old carrot.  You can substitute some of the vegetables for things like sweet potatoes, shittake mushroom and pearl onions, though I have never tried it yet.

The cooking method in this recipe is what my Mom uses, and par-boiling meat and bones is a common technique used in Korean home cooking to remove the impurities and some fat.  As well, it is common to soak the raw meat in cold water for about 20 minutes to remove some of the blood, though it is omitted here.  I think this is a great recipe for the slow cooker, or pressure cooker for even faster preparation, without the parboiling steps, probably resulting in softer, more tender meat.

Serves 3-4

  • 1.5 lbs high quality beef short ribs, about 5-6 pieces
  • 1/4 cup brewed soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • approx. 150g Korean turnip, cut 1.5″-2″ chunks, about 6-8 pieces
  • 1/2 large carrot, cut 1.5″-2″ chunks
  • 7 chestnuts, peeled, whole
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 large chunks of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 6 daechu (also known as jujube or Chinese dates)

1.  Clean the short ribs well by rinsing with cold water several times.  In a large surface pot, place the meat in single layer and cover with cold water.  Cover, and bring to boil on high heat.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain the water, and place the meat back into the pot.

2.  Add cold water again, about 1 L, or till it’s just covering the meat.  Again, bring to boil covered and cook meat for 10 minutes.  Drain off most of the liquid (you can reserve this liquid for other uses), leaving about 1 cup liquid in the pot.

3.  Add soy sauce, brown sugar, whole garlic, ginger chunks, and daechu.  Snug in the turnip and carrot chunks, trying to fit the meat and the large vegetables in one layer.  Simmer on low heat with lid on for about 45 minutes, remembering to add chestnuts about half way into cooking.  The vegetables should be cooked through, and the meat should be tender when pierced with a metal chopstick (or knife, of course).

4.  It is best cool, and place in freezer for a few minutes to skim off the fat.  Then, reheat, and reduce the juices by about 1/2 (or when it thickens slightly and saltiness is just right).  Normally, I do this with the leftovers.  Serve the beef, cut into bite size pieces, and the vegetables on rice with a bit of the juice on top.

Short ribs in water.

Short ribs next day with rice. This was actually a different recipe, made with pureed onion, Korean pear and apple to replace the sugar. Still very tasty, but just not a fan of the texture so best to stick with sugar or fruit juices.

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