Korean Barbeque Beef Ribs

Who doesn’t love a happy accident? After Jason purchased the wrong cut of ribs for a small dinner party, (he is the baker in the family), we were left with 3 pounds of thin beef short ribs that could only be cooked one way – on the grill! The trouble we had with that is that we didn’t have a grill and we don’t have a backyard for grilling. Because our kitchen doesn’t have a powerful exhaust fan for ventilating lots of smoke, no grilling indoors either. Our only option was to get a grill, pack our wagon, and walk a few short blocks to Golden Gate Park. Fresh off our recent camping trip, we were feeling confident about the whole outdoor cooking thing.

Korean style beef short ribs (kalbi) are perfect for summertime outdoor grilling. The thin cross cut of the rack (a “flanked” cut) makes the rich, tender, fatty meat perfect for bold marinades and hot charcoal. They cook quickly, so they have to be watched. A minute too long on a hot grill can mean the difference between perfect and charred.

This was our first go at Korean barbecue. The marinade is a mix of sweet and salty with lots of garlic and ginger and toasted sesame oil. Like several recipes we found, this one called for grating an Asian pear into the marinade. It adds sweetness, and the enzymes in the fruit help to tenderize the meat (the ribs hardly need it, but who are we to argue with the recipe). Nearly all the ingredients for this marinade are available in major grocery chains. We’ve come to love the marinade so much that we’ve used in multiple times since with Coho Salmon. Whatever protein you use, always serve with good white rice and kimchi.

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Korean Barbeque Beef Ribs
Adapted from Judiaann Woo

3 pounds Korean-style beef short ribs*
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 small onion, peeled and finely grated
1/2 Asian pear, peeled and finely grated
2 tablespoons micro planned garlic
3 tablespoons micro planned ginger
1 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)


In a bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Transfer beef ribs to a gallon sized sealable freezer bag, you may need 2 (or a container large enough to hold the ribs and marinade). Add marinade, press out excess air from bags, and seal. Turn bag over several times to ensure beef is evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium-hot. Drain excess marinade off beef. Grill short ribs, turning once, to desired doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions, if desired. Serve whole pieces as a main course or cut into smaller pieces, using kitchen shears, for a starter or party nibble.

*From The Food Network’s site: “Korean-style short ribs can be found at most Asian markets. The cut, also known as “flanken,” refers to a strip of beef cut across the bone from the chuck end of the short ribs. Unlike American and European-style short ribs, which include a thick slice of bone-in beef, Korean-style short ribs are cut lengthwise across the rib bones. The result is a thin strip of meat, about 8 to 10 inches in length, lined on 1 side with 1/2-inch thick rib bones. The thin slices make for fast cooking on the grill.”