Galbi is actually not a single food, but rather a cut of meat that is tender and flavorful. Known as short rib in the states, galbi literally means ‘ribs’, and can be boiled in a soup, braised into jjim, or most famously grilled over charcoal. Most people think of beef when it comes to galbi but pork galbi is also delicious.
Two kinds of beef galbi cuts
Perhaps the most famous Korean dish in the States is grilled marinated galbi, known as Korean BBQ. The galbi you order at a restaurant will usually be different from that made at home. But most home cooks make LA galbi which is a cut that cuts across the bones so that it is easier to cook and eat. This is the cut you’ll find at your local Korean grocery or you can ask the butcher at your local grocery store if he can cut the short ribs in this way.
This recipe is adapted from a wonderful Korean cookbook that I discovered a long time ago in Seoul, and I’ve been making this marinade ever since. A Korean Mother’s Cooking Notes, by Chang Sun-Young, was one of the first comprehensive English language Korean cookbooks that had the proper measurements and instructions that made sense to me at a time when all my Korean cooking mentors told me to put in a bit of this and a bit of that.
My friends and I cooked pretty much everything in the cookbook and marveled at how wonderfully each dish came out. I love the two step marination in this galbi recipe, but if you don’t have time, feel free to skip the first marinade and add the grated onions and honey mix to the marinade.
When I first started marinating galbi as a young bride living in Korea, I didn’t have a blender nor did I see anyone using one to make their marinade. Thus we grated our onions by hand and chopped more garlic than I like to remember. These days, I use a blender to assist in my galbi marinade and it is a wonderful time saver and a relief for my pickleball elbow.
Does it make a huge difference to grill galbi on an outdoor grill? Yes! Although I find gas grills to be just as effective as charcoal grills. If you must cook inside, try using a Korean grill pan with ridges that you can use on your stove. Oven grilling on the top shelf will work also.
How much galbi should you buy?
You should buy 1/2 – 3/4 pound of meat per person, depending on whom you are cooking for and what other dishes you have. If you are cooking for big meat eaters, even 1 pound per person won’t be too much. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for a month.
Adapted from Chang Sun Young’s A Korean Mother’s Cooking Notes
- 3-4 lbs LA Cut Galbi
- 1 cup Onion, Grated
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 3 tbsp Honey
- 1/3 cup Sake
- 3 tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1/2 cup Scallions, Chopped
- 2 tbsp Garlic
- 1 tbsp Black Pepper
- 3 tbsp Sesame Salt
Mix together the grated onion and 1/4 cup honey then coat the galbi with the mixture.
After 2 – 3 hours, mix the sauce ingredients together, and add to the galbi.
Allow the meat to marinate for at least 6 hours, then preheat the grill to get it to medium high heat. Grill about 3 minutes on one side and then about 2 minutes on the other side. The meat should have some char marks but still slightly pink on the inside.
If cooking in the oven, preheat the oven on broil, and cook the galbi on the top layer of the oven about 6 inches from the heat source. Cook about 3 minutes on one side and 2 on the other side.