Rich, savory, fall-off-the-bone tenderness. Galbi Jjim (aka Korean Braised Short Ribs) is the decadent dish that says, “I love you. You are special to me.”
For Koreans, beef is the most luxurious meat. Chicken and pork are for everyday eating. But beef is special.
Growing up, I understood the preciousness of beef as a Korean thing. Korea is a mountainous peninsula with little arable land for cattle grazing. That, combined with a long and violent history of hostile take overs (colonization, war, etc.), made beef a rare and precious commodity. Reserved for royalty or the very rich, beef was considered extravagant food.
That’s why Galbi is not for everyday eating. Oh no, Galbi is reserved for special occasions! Holidays. Thanksgiving. Birthdays. And of course, when your favorite people come over for dinner. That’s actually when I like to serve it best. 🙂
Most people know Galbi as the thin-cut short ribs that are grilled table side at Korean restaurants. Galbi Jjim, made from the same cut of beef, is the thick, heartwarming, stewed version. Soy sauce, dates, daikon, and lots of pureed onion, garlic, and ginger do their magic over a long, slow braise.
The result? Tender, luscious chunks of beef that fall off the bone. Saucy, deep richness that begs to be spooned over rice. A dish that’s so decadent and satisfying, you’ll understand why this was reserved for Korean royalty.
Where to find Beef Short Ribs:
First off, beef short ribs are an expensive cut of meat. That’s partly what makes this dish so special. Secondly, they are not the easiest cut of meat to find. In my part of the world (Toronto, Canada), there are 4 places where you can purchase beef short ribs:
- Korean Grocery Store
- Asian Grocery Store
- Regular Grocery Store
- Boutique Butcher Shop
Korean Grocery Stores (Galleria, H Mart) carry beef short ribs that are perfect for making Galbi Jjim: meaty ribs, trimmed fat. It’s easy enough to pick up pre-packaged short ribs from the meat aisle. However, the price point is quite high at $24.99/lb (CAD prices, 2019).
Asian Grocery Stores (T & T, etc.) also carry beef short ribs. They come in large, 3-rib portions in the butcher section. The price point is quite low at $6.99/lb and they’ll even go on sale for $5.99/lb. However, the meat can be quite fatty and inconsistent in size. You’ll have to ask the butcher to cut through the bone, which can be tricky when the rib sections are not uniform in size (i.e., narrow and tapered on one end, thick and broad on the other). This requires more work but you really can’t beat this price.
Regular Grocery Stores (No Frills, Loblaws, Fred Meyer, Albertsons) also carry beef short ribs. The cut is similar to the Korean Grocery Store — meaty, uniform in size, and with a similar price point. The only difficulty is that they are not always available. Sometimes they’re there, sometimes they’re not. I’ve seen them packaged in the meat aisle and I’ve also seen them in the butcher section, behind a glassed window.
I’ve actually never bought beef short ribs at Boutique Butcher Shops, but I’ve seen them. They looked wonderful — thick, meaty, and evenly marbled with fat. I like to think of them as the Rolls Royce of beef short ribs. At $38.99/lb, they should be!
How to Make Galbi Jjim (aka Korean Braised Short Ribs):
First, soak the beef ribs in cold water. This is an important step in Korean cooking to remove the the excess blood from the meat.
Drain and rinse well. Add pureed onion, garlic, ginger, apple or pear. Add soy sauce, sugar, dates, mirin and water. Give it a good stir.
Bring to a boil then lower heat, cover, and simmer vigorously until the meat looks shrunken but is still bouncy and a little tough. Not done yet, but almost there.
Add daikon and carrot. Simmer vigorously (covered) for 30-45 more minutes.
UNCOVER and simmer vigorously for 15-30 more minutes to reduce the sauce. What does a vigorous simmer look like? This is not a low simmer, with 1 or 2 bubbles coming up from the liquid. This is a vigorous simmer, with lots of little bubbles coming to the surface. Bring to a boil first, then lower heat to maintain a gentle yet vigorous bubbling.
When the Galbi Jjim is done, the meat and vegetables should be tender, the sauce thick and clinging to the ribs. Watch carefully so the sauce does not reduce too much.
Serve hot with rice and kimchi. Enjoy!
Galbi Jjim aka Korean Braised Short Ribs
- Dutch oven or Large Stockpot
- Food processor
- 4 lbs beef short ribs
In Food Processor:
- 1 large onion (peeled + cut into chunks)
- 1 pear or apple (peeled, cored, cut into chunks)
- 8 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 2 inch ginger (peeled + cut into chunks)
In Dutch Oven:
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Mirin (Korean sweet cooking wine)
- 2 cups water
- 5 dried red dates (I used deseeded ones), optional
- 1 lb Korean radish or daikon (peeled + cut into 1-inch half moons)
- 2 medium carrots (peeled + cut into large chunks)
- First, soak the beef ribs in cold water for 30 minutes. This is an important step in Korean cooking to remove the the excess blood from the meat.
- Meanwhile, puree the onion, garlic, ginger, pear or apple in a food processor. (Alternately, you can mince the garlic and ginger and grate the onion and pear/apple on a box grater.)
- Drain water and rinse well. Add pureed onion, garlic, ginger, pear/apple. Add soy sauce, sugar, dates, mirin, and water. Give it a good stir.
- Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer vigorously (covered) until the meat looks shurnken but is still bouncy and not tender, about 1 hour. The braising liquid should look like it's soaked into the meat but there should be a lot of liquid in the pot.
- Add daikon and carrot. Simmer vigorously (covered) for another 30-45 minutes, until the meat is tender and some of the smaller ribs have detached from the bone. The daikon and carrot should also be soft.
- UNCOVER and simmer vigorously for 15-30 more minutes to reduce the sauce. The sauce should be thick and clinging to the ribs. Some people like to prefer a more liquid-y sauce so feel free to reduce to your preference.
- Garnish with green onion. Serve hot with rice and kimchi.