There is something special about Korean Barbecue that has me addicted to it.
The flavor, the aroma and just the great feeling you will get when you eat Korean food. It draws you in every time like the hardcore carnivore you are. Plus it is a lot different to the overly sweet BBQ you would eat week in, week out.
If you grab some fresh ingredients and put a little bit of time aside to make these, then you’ll know exactly what I mean.
If you love Korean food, this juicy short rib recipe may just become your instant favorite.
So, let’s delve into what we need to make Korean BBQ Short Ribs.
Click to jump straight to each topic
What cut of meat do we need for Korean BBQ Short Ribs?
So what makes them Korean beef short ribs? The flavors understandably and also the way they are cut.
Normal beef ribs that are commonly called short ribs are sold with the bones intact and usually with 3 bones in them, running the full length of the ribs of around 8” in length. Yet Korean short ribs (also known as flanken cut, LA Galbi or Kalbi) are sliced around ¾ of an inch to an inch thick, and through the whole rack of around 4 to 6 bones. So you end up with small pieces of bone in each slice.
Although these are cut from exactly the same cut of beef, they are cooked totally differently. Whole short ribs are a tough cut and need to be cooked low and slow to break down all of the connective tissue and the hard muscle. When sliced down across the bones to make Korean style beef short ribs, it is the long marinade process that you will rely on to help tenderise the meat, as these are cooked hot and fast once marinated.
These are exactly the same cut of beef but processed differently.
Items that will help you cook these are:
- A grill
- Sharp chef’s knife
- Instant read thermometer
- Blender or food processor
Korean BBQ marinade for the ribs
Making the sweet and savory marinade is where we turn beef ribs into the most addictive Korean BBQ short ribs.
To make things easier to obtain, I am going to list some ingredient alternatives. Mainly because you may not be able to get a couple of ingredients where you live.
I always pre-measure out all of my ingredients when cooking. More so it just means I can get into a groove while cooking.
Into a food processor, combine soy sauce, maltose, Asian pear, mirin, brown sugar, onion, a couple of thin slices of ginger, green onions (just the white bits), garlic, kosher salt, finely ground black pepper, sesame oil and water. Give everything a quick buzz.
No need to turn this into a puree. The only reason we are adding the ingredients to the food processor is because it is a quick way to open up all of the ingredients and allow their flavors to combine in this marinade.
Now, the 2 ingredients I’ve changed are Asian pear and Maltose. If you cannot find an Asian pear, you can use a normal pear. And if you don’t have the Maltose, substitute it with ⅓ of a cup of honey.
Maltose is the traditional syrup that sets extremely hard, so make it the last ingredient you put in the food processor as you need to soften it in a microwave to measure it out, then as soon as it hits the other cold ingredients it will start to harden again very quickly. Hence why I used honey for the recipe and in my video, it is a little easier to work with.
Once all of the ingredients are in the food processor, mix it up. It doesn’t need to be a smooth liquid, chunks are fine as this is just a marinade. It is the mix of flavors we want.
How to grill Korean BBQ Short Beef Ribs?
1. Prepping the ribs
The good thing about Korean BBQ short ribs is you don’t need to do any prep work on them.
They should already be cut, as unless you have a food safe band saw to cut through the bones, you won’t be cutting down a rack of beef ribs yourself at home.
If there seems to be an excessive amount of fat on them, you can trim this off but I’ve never come across an amount that I deemed too much.
2. For maximum flavor marinate overnight
Seasoning the short ribs is as easy as putting them into a container or zip lock bag and pouring in the tangy Kalbi style marinade mixture. If you are using zip lock bags, make sure you squeeze out all the air.
This then goes into the fridge overnight, preferably for 24 hours but overnight you will still taste the soy sauce based marinade. The longer you leave the ribs in this marinade, the more the flavors are boosted. I once left some ribs in this marinade for 48 hours and they were absolutely incredible.
I do understand most you will not be prepping food two days from when you are planning on eating them but do yourself a favor. If you try these short ribs in the sweet and savory marinade for eight hours and love them, the next time you purchase some, grab a few extra and let them marinate for 24 hours or even 48 hours, trust me it is well worth it.
While you marinate beef short ribs in the fridge, come back and turn them once or twice through the night. Do not stress about constantly flipping or stirring them. Just when you think of it.
It is purely to break them all up, when they are resting on each other there is surface area that doesn’t have great contact with the marinade, so by breaking that up a few times, it allows every piece of the ribs a chance to soak up that goodness.
3. Grill setup
You will need a direct high heat source to cook these Korean short ribs, preferably an outdoor grill.
I used my flat top grill as it heats up quickly and the grills help char up the food and I love seeing char marks on Korean short ribs. Alternatively, you can use a charcoal grill but I wanted instant heat for this cook. If you are using charcoal, you will be cooking directly over the charcoal, so you may need to keep moving the ribs to stop flare-ups occurring. Charring of the meat is good, burning it isn’t.
So just turn on the jets all the way to high and allow the grill to heat up for 10 minutes before we get the ribs on the heat.
There is no need to oil the grills as we put some sesame oil in our marinade.
Once the grill has warmed up, lay the ribs across the grill. You should hear an instant sizzle and there will be some smoke from the oil content of the marinade.
Leave the ribs alone for around 3 to 4 minutes, by that time they should have some nice char marks on them and be ready for a flip onto the other side.
You just need to repeat the same for this side, give the ribs another 3 to 4 minutes and they should have some nice charring on both sides.
I do prefer when cooking Korean style short ribs to take them a little over medium, so an internal temp of 150°F to 160°F is what I’m looking for as I feel the moisture added by the marinade allows a further bit of cooking and this allows that better charring on the outside which just creates another level of flavor to the ribs.
4. Garnish the ribs
Remember the green onion ends you put aside when making the marinade?
Well, it is time to grab it out and start slicing it up while the ribs are sizzling away.
I tend to like to slice them at a diagonal angle and roughly at an ⅛ of an inch thick. The angle makes no difference, it is purely for aesthetic looks and makes for a much nicer-looking garnish on top of the short ribs.
That green really pops off the charred beef short ribs and the thinly sliced green onions offer a little fresh crunch to the final bite.
Optionally, you can also sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on these beautiful Korean barbecue short ribs.
Do you need to rest beef short ribs?
Any meat that is cooked should be rested.
As these Korean short ribs are sliced at roughly an inch thick before cooking, 5 to 10 minutes is more than enough. Plus the fact the aroma coming off these beef short ribs will drive you and your family up the wall waiting much longer. Trust me, they really do smell that good and they taste even better.
Korean BBQ Beef Ribs
- 4 Korean short ribs (6 bones in each) Roughly 2 lbs
For the marinade:
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup maltose (honey is a great substitute)
- 1 Asian pear (a normal pear is a fine substitute)
- ¼ cup mirin
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 small onion (roughly chopped)
- 1 small piece of ginger (roughly chopped)
- 1 bunch of green onions (roughly 8 to 10) and only add the white arts and put the green aside for later
- 6 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp fine black pepper
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 cup water
- To make the soy sauce marinade, put all ingredients to a food processor and mix up. You don’t need to puree the ingredients, just a quick buzz to allow them to mix and release their flavors. Put onion green bits aside for garnish.
- Place beef short ribs and marinade into a container or zip lock bag and put in the fridge overnight. Give the ribs a stir or flip the bag a couple of times to ensure even marinade distribution.
- Heat up a grill for 10 minutes to get it nice and hot.
- While the grill is heating, cut up green onions for garnish at roughly an ⅛ of inch thick on a diagonal angle.
- Add the beef short ribs to the hot grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on one side to allow a char to develop.
- Repeat on the second side and cook until and internal temperature of around 150°F to 160°F is reached.
- Remove the ribs from the heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes and garnish with thinly sliced green onion.
- On their own.
- With steamed Asian vegetables or steamed rice.
- With standard BBQ side, coleslaw, cornbread, mac n cheese.