A Korean classic with a twist: Spicy Galbi Jjim with Cheese! Tender, fall-off-the-bone, baby back pork ribs are braised in a fiery red Gochujang-flavored sauce. Cozy, comforting, and so incredibly delicious — make this special Korean dish for the ultimate one-pot meal!
What is Spicy Galbi Jjim?
Spicy Galbi Jjim is a special Korean dish that features tender, fall-off-the-bone, braised pork ribs cooked in a spicy sauce. The aromatic, rich sauce is vibrantly red. A generous shower of mozzarella and squishy rice cakes (tteok) tempers the heat and adds another layer of deliciousness!
In Korean, “Galbi” means “bone” and “Jjim” means “braised.” Spicy Galbi Jjim belongs to the Korean family of rich, stewed, bone-in meat dishes. The combination of tender meat and rich sauce make it a cozy winter favorite.
You may already be familiar with Galbi Jjim, also known as Korean Braised Short Beef Ribs. Another long-braised meat dish, it’s seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, daikon, and red dates. The expensive price tag and long cooking time make it an indulgent and extravagant dish. It’s a popular favorite served during holidays like Chuseok, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Spicy Galbi Jjim is different from Classic Beef Galbi Jjim because the sauce is spicy. Also, the cut of meat is different — instead of thick-cut beef ribs, little Baby Back Pork Ribs are used.
Cooked until tender in a rich, spicy sauce, Spicy Galbi Jjim is a delicious show-stopper at the table!
- Pork Baby Back Ribs. Look for meaty pork ribs with even marbling. You’ll need one entire rack of ribs for this recipe. Cut into individual ribs for faster cooking and easier eating.
- Onion + Garlic + Ginger. The essential aromatics!
- Jalapeno Pepper. Adds another flavor dimension without being overly spicy.
- Dduk/Tteok or Korean Rice Cakes. Long, tubular rice cakes hold their shape and absorb the sauce well. The squishy, chewy texture provides a nice contrast to to the ribs.
- Mozzarella Cheese. A generous helping of melty mozzarella completes the ooey-gooey decadence!
- Gochujang. Korean fermented chili paste. Spicy, sweet, and deeply flavored.
- Soy Sauce. Deep, umami flavor.
- Gochukaru. Korean dried chili flakes.
- Sugar. A little sweetness to balance the spice.
- Mirin. Korean/Japanese sweet cooking wine.
- Sesame Oil. Aromatic nutty flavor.
- ESSENTIAL STEP: Parboil the pork ribs. Cover pork bones with water to cover. Boil furiously for 5 minutes. You will see scum and bits of fat floating to the surface and blood leaking from the bones. Drain the bones in a colander. Rinse the bones with water. Wash the pot, as lots of fat and scum will be sticking to the sides.
The rest of the steps come together quickly:
- Combine pork ribs and sauce ingredients. Give everything a good stir to combine.
- Cook pork ribs. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes.
- Reduce sauce. Uncover and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces, about 15 more minutes.
- Add rice cakes. Cover and cook until they are soft and chewy, about 5 minutes.
- Add mozzarella. Turn off the heat and add the mozzarella. Cover until the cheese melts into pools of gooey deliciousness, about 5 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy. Garnish with green onion, red chili pepper, and sesame seeds. Serve bubbling hot with rice and kimchi.
- Make in advance. A convenient dish to make in advance, cook up to 2 days beforehand. Add rice cakes and mozzarella right before serving.
- Serve with rice and kimchi. Rice is the perfect complement to all those saucy ribs. Kimchi is an easy side that adds a sharp, acidic bite of freshness and crunch.
- Cook in shallow braiser. Although a regular stock pot also works, a shallow braiser makes it easier for all the ribs to fit in one layer on the bottom of the pot. Also good for serving at the table.
- Don’t forget to garnish! Add color and freshness with green onion, chopped red chili pepper, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Otherwise, the final dish is very dreary and orange-brown.
Why do I need to parboil the pork ribs?
Koreans parboil meat bones to eliminate all the greasy bits that float to the surface. The result? Cleaner, less gamey-tasting meat. Unmuddled flavors: pork that tastes like pork, sauce that tastes like sauce.
How spicy is this dish?
I would categorize Pork Rib Spicy Galbi Jjim as medium spicy. Truthfully, the sauce is more spicy-sweet sauce than purely spicy. The rice cakes and cheese also lessen the heat factor. Serve with white rice to mitigate the spice even more.
Can I make this dish less spicy?
Yes, this dish can be less spicy! The easiest way to adjust: Add 2 Tbsp Gochukaru (dried chili flakes) amount instead of 1/4 cup. Also, do not add the Jalapeno seeds to the braising sauce.
Also, check the label of your Gochujang (chili paste) container. Gochujang often comes in a spicy level ranging from 1 to 5. Choose a spice level of 1 or 2 if you want a mildly spicy Gochujang. FYI my recipes always use Gochujang with a spice level of 3.
Can I substitute the Gochukaru?
Unfortunately, this recipe doesn’t work without Gochukaru or Korean dried chili flakes. Gochukaru is smoky, floral, spicy, earthy, and deliciously complex. There is no substitute.
How do I store leftovers?
Leftovers can be stored tightly sealed, in the fridge, for 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave, stirring every 2 minutes, until everything is bubbling hot and the rice cakes are squishy.
More Braised dishes to love:
- Beef Galbi Jjim (Korean Beef Short Ribs)
- Bossam (Korean Braised Pork Belly)
- Dubu Jorim (Spicy Braised Tofu)
- Braised Lotus Root
- My North Korean Grandmother’s Pork Belly
- Kimchi Jjim (Braised Kimchi with Tofu + Pork Belly)
Spicy Galbi Jjim with Cheese
- Shallow Braiser
- 1 rack baby back pork ribs, cut into individual ribs (about 2 lbs)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 inch ginger, minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 2 Tbsp Gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp Mirin or rice wine (Korean sweet cooking wine)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups dduk/tteok or Korean rice cakes
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (grated)
- 1 green onion, chopped (for garnish, optional)
- 1 red chili pepper, chopped (for garnish, optional)
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (for garnish, optional)
- Parboil the pork ribs. Cover pork ribs with enough water to cover. Boil furiously for 5 minutes. You will see scum and bits of fat floating to the surface.
- Drain and wash the pork ribs. Remove the pork ribs and drain in a colander. Rinse bones well with cold water, rubbing to remove the scum and fat particles. Wash the pot, as there will be lots of fat and scum sticking to the sides.
- Cook pork ribs. In the freshly cleaned braiser, add clean, parboiled pork ribs and braising sauce ingredients. Give it a good stir. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes.
- *Poke the meat with a fork to check for tenderness. If the fork slides into the meat easily, it's tender enough.
- Reduce sauce. Uncover and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces, about 15-20 more minutes.
- Prep the rice cakes/tteok. If using frozen rice cakes, soak in cold water to defrost for 15 minutes. If using fresh rice cakes, separate and set aside on a plate.
- Add rice cakes. When the pork ribs are tender and the is reduced and thick, add ric cakes. Cover and simmer on medium low until soft but still chewy, about 5 minutes. Make sure to turn the rice cakes around and squish them into the sauce to soak up the flavors.
- Add the mozzarella. Turn off the heat. Scatter the mozzarella all over. Cover and let the residual heat melts the cheese into pools of gooey deliciousness, about 5 minutes.
- Garnish and serve. Add chopped green onion, red chili pepper, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve with rice and kimchi. Enjoy!