Korean BBQ Kalbi

This dish is always a serious crowd pleaser. It is best cooked on a charcoal grill, but if you don't have access to one, a grill pan works almost as well. The longer you marinate this beef, the better it will taste. Everyone will be coming back for seconds and thirds and asking you for the recipe. For someone's first taste of Korean food, this dish is a must and the ingredients are relatively easy to find.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 25 min (includes marinating time)
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
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1 pound Korean short ribs, LA- or flanken-cut, or a rib eye steak, trimmed and cut thinly into 1/4-inch (2/3-centimeter) slices

4 tablespoons soy sauce

3 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons grated ginger

7 to 8 grinds black pepper

Good pinch of sea salt or kosher salt

3 cloves garlic, grated

2 semi-hard sweet pears, such as Barlett, or 1 Asian pear, peeled and grated on a box grater

Cooked medium-grain white rice, for serving

Green leaf lettuce leaves, for serving

Ssam Jang Sauce, recipe follows

Sesame leaves (perilla), for serving, optional

Ssam Jang Sauce:

4 1/2 tablespoons Korean fermented soy bean paste (doenjang)

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons Korean chile paste (gochujang)

2 tablespoons mirin

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, grated

1 spring onion or scallion, finely chopped


  1. Place the beef in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, ginger, black pepper, salt, garlic and grated pear and massage into the meat well. Chill and let marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan until very hot. Shake off any excess marinade from the meat and grill the beef strips until desired doneness, about 30 seconds each side for rare.
  3. Serve immediately with white rice, green leaf lettuce, Ssam Jang Sauce and sesame leaves if using. Place a small scoop of rice, a smear of Ssam Jang Sauce and a piece of beef into a lettuce leaf. Wrap and enjoy.

Ssam Jang Sauce:

  1. Mix the soy bean paste, sesame seeds, chile paste, mirin, sesame oil, garlic and spring onions together. Transfer to a small bowl and serve with kalbi or other grilled meat.

Cook’s Note

LA- or flanken-cut short ribs are ribs that are cut into slices across the bone. If you are serving the meat with bones still attached, trim the strip of bones off, then snip the meat into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears. Gnaw on the bones like a true Korean.

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