LA Galbi/Kalbi: Marinated Morsels of Marvelous Korean Meat


I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Korean food is slowly getting the recognition it so rightly deserves across America.  Although you may not be able to find as giant a Korean menu in Des Moines as you would in Los Angeles or New York, you’d be surprised how many Korean BBQ restaurants exist. (Upon a bit of research, Des Moines did have a Korean restaurant, but, unfortunately, it closed.)  My point is, Korean food could have a mass appeal if more people were exposed to it and just gave it a try.

Ok, so maybe the sannakji or some of the tripe or cold noodle soup dishes may not appeal to everyone, but most Korean dishes are extremely delicious and extremely palatable.  Dumplings, stews, scallion pancakes, grilled calamari, soups with layered flavors, and delicious grilled meats are just a few tastes of what Korean food has to offer. Think about Thai food fifteen years ago – one may have only found it in big cities.  Now this is a cuisine you definitely can find in Des Moines (sorry to pick on you again, Iowa!).


If you are a Korean food virgin, I highly recommend you start with this dish – kalbi (also known as galbi): marinated short ribs.  LA Kalbi is called “LA” because it is cut LAterally.  You can see how ours were cut thinly on the bias across the bone. This really helps speed up the cooking time.  Talk to your butcher about slicing some short ribs this way for you.  If you can’t find short ribs, this marinade will also work wonders with thin slices of beef (one that is marbled with fat and not super-lean).  The marinade helps break down the meat so it becomes fabulous in flavor and pretty tender.  Pair with some rice, toppings and soju and you’ve got yourself a delicious Korean meal at home.  The only thing you really need is a little forward planning since for best results you should marinate the meat overnight.


GALBI/KALBI (serves 4)

  • 2 lbs. short ribs cut across the bone (flanken)
  • white rice (I like to use sushi rice since Korean rice is sticky)
  • Optional toppings/sides: kimchi, scallions (delicious marinaded ones called Pa Muchim, extra gochujang

For the Marinade:

  • blender
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, skin removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 pear, skinned and cored and roughly chopped – Asian pear preferably
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, skin removed and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons korean hot pepper paste (Gochujang/Kochujang) – *you could also sub some hot pepper flakes or even some sriracha if you can’t get your hands on gochujang

What to do:

  1. Make the marinade by pureeing the garlic, onion, ginger and pear together with the water.  Add more water if it isn’t pureeing enough.    Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend together.
  2. In a big ziplock freezer bag, add the meat and pour the marinade in over it.  Remove the air out of the bag and zip it up.  Shake the bag a bit and move the meat inside around so it gets nice and covered with the marinade. Now put it in the fridge and let it all meld together overnight.
  3. When it is time to eat, remove the meat from the marinade and wipe off the extra marinade with paper towels.  You don’t want the meat to be “wet”.  Next, heat up the grill (best option – traditionally with wood charcoal) or a grill pan (next best option) or, if all else fails and you must, a regular pan.  Get it nice and hot.  Add your meat to the grill and grill for just a few minutes on the grill.  It really should only need about 2 minutes per side. It will have great color and almost have a charred/caramelized outer layer.

29 thoughts on “LA Galbi/Kalbi: Marinated Morsels of Marvelous Korean Meat

  1. Korean food is very “in” and anytime I make these for a BBQ, they vanish! These are Beastie Boys kinda’ “fingah lickin’ good”! 😉

  2. Those, and homemade kimchi. Which you’d know how to make if you’d come here instead of going on vacation. Have you been to the Good Fork? If not, you should give it a try.

  3. Way to pick on small states like Iowa. 🙂

    Looks delicious! I can go for some right about now, along with some mul nenymyun.

    I’ve also heard that LA restaurants began cutting the meat that way, so another reason why it’s called LA Galbi. 🙂 I don’t use gochujang in the marinade – just a little ssamjang for wrapping in lettuce and rice!

  4. This looks wonderful! I like the addition of asian pear to the marinade — Ii usually add it to one of the salads, but I like how you infuse the flavor.

  5. Looks delicious. Admittedly I’m not as savvy as a good foodie should be having only been to a few Korean restaurants. I guess I need to start experimenting in my own kitchen.
    P.S. I’ve missed you guys!

    1. @Joan – it’s so nice to be missed! We took a much needed break to South Carolina and Georgia last week and ate loads of great barbecue, low country and soul food. Hopefully, we’re back in the saddle now and we’ll be doing our regular rounds to yours and our other fave blogs, and posting more regularly again.

  6. Ha! Great timing. I had kalbi and BimbimBap late Monday night in Koreantown with an OB beer and i thought it was the best thing ever. I’m saving up the marinade recipe. Planning to do some grilling this summer!

    Amy, stop picking on Iowa! 🙂

  7. Great marinade. You have all of the tastes in balance, sweet, sour and spicy.

    My Korean dining experiences have been limited. I’m trying like crazy to remember the restaurant where I last ate Korean. I do remember having some delicious short ribs there. It was one of those places where you can do the barbecue right at the table. Kind of kitschy, but it looked like fun, although I didn’t try it. The name of the place is driving me crazy. I think it was on 50th street…

  8. Korean food has always been a fave in my fam (we’re Pakistani- we’re chili-heads) it’s so wonderful to see it becoming more popular as you said- it’s available in Des Moines now, too. love your marinade and the use of Asian pear in particular. lovely photos- as always.

  9. you’re right. america is just staring to discover the fruits of other cuisines. I would like to see a hard core vietnamese surge.

    by the way, that egg looks very sexy.

  10. Korean! It’s getting around. It should be noted that many Korean joints out there are masquerading as sushi joints (poorly, I might add). The tipoff is the “sushi/BBQ” sign. And be sure to look out for the ones in stripmalls. Therein lie the gems.

  11. Love the look of your perfectly grilled kalbi, and I swear that thin slice of radish just winked at me, the saucy little rabbit….

    I was planning to make some Korean last week and I bought a tub of kimchee (would make my own but we’d never get through the massive amounts) which leaked all over me, my shoes, Mike, the grocery store, and the trunk of my car. Now? I’m not making Korean food again for at least a few weeks, purely out of spite.

    1. @CB Tina – a friend of mine at work made a batch of her own kimchee around Christmas and finally got through the last of it and swears she’ll never eat kimchee again. Too much of a good thing? Maybe, but at least she’s not trying to extract the, ahem, highly perfumed odor of it from her car! Poor you! I think you should definitely share any tips on cleaning up kimchee messes as I’m sure it stains and stanks real bad!

  12. YUMMMMMM!!!!! Did I tell you I was in Korea last summer and LOVED the food?!!!?!?! It was seriously amazing – and the next time you are in Seoul you must get the oysters – they required a knife and fork they were that big and deLICious! xoxoxo

  13. Oh YUM. A Korean joint just opened here in Stockton, the gastronomic equivalent of Iowa. Just as flat too. I’m very excited. I just hope it’s for real. When it’s good – like the places on 32nd St (?) in NY, it is SO good. Missing home.

  14. Mmm…galbi looks deelish!
    You’ve inspired me to cook more Korean food. (I’m Korean, btw.)
    I’m adding your blog link to my page – hope you don’t mind. 🙂

    1. Hi!! THank you so much for stopping by and OF COURSE we don’t mind the link. It makes us happy 🙂 – thanks, june. come back soon!

  15. Korean food is gaining in popularity — and rightly so! It’s delicious. The pear and ginger in that marinade are calling my name.

  16. I love Korean food, but have never made it at home. Which is just a damn shame. And almost too embarrassing to admit here, but I’m thinking it will motivate me to get on it this weekend. 😉

  17. People keep telling me about Korean food, keep suggesting that I should try it, that I’ll love it and desire it for a lifetime etc. etc……

    And whoa…. if I get served something like this, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a fan for life. Delicious!!!

  18. Looks great guys! I have a trick to avoid having to marinade the ribs overnight. Kiwi has an enzyme that breaks down protein and not only tenderizes the meat but speeds up the marinating time. It’s pretty neutral in flavour and the enzyme works a little differently that the kind that’s in pineapples (that’s so strong it turns meat into paste), so you don’t end up with meat that’s an unpleasant texture.

  19. I used to go to a great Korean restaurant In east London but there is not a decent on in Rome (at least not to my knowledge which is quite shallow) anyway I miss it – I miss the diversity here. Anyway this looks delicious and as always in awe of your culianary antics, energy and wonderful dinners.

  20. I made this marinade for chicken via another Korean recipe and it turned out fantastic. I can imagine how it must transform savory short-ribs. Will definitely try this soon.

  21. Interesting dish. I find it fascinating how different countries around the world have their own take on a dish. Like for example, every country has their own form of bread.. I recently was in portugal and there they had a dish (can’t remember the name) but it was steak (with lots of oil and garlic) and a fried egg on top. I remember sitting in that restaurant and thinking back to this dish I saw on your site. I have to admit, I didn’t read your article at the time (tut tut) but I was sure it was about Portugal. Now I am pleasantly surprised to find a Korean dish that may just as well be on a menu in Lisbon!

  22. I love Korean food. This recipe is very similar to one given to me by my Korean neighbor years ago. We supplied her with the overflow of veggies from our garden and she was always gracious enough to share the dishes she made with them. This is one of my favorite recipes. I have no trouble finding the cross-cut ribs because we have a large Korean popular here. I agree overnight marinating is best. And they will even freeze well if they are lined in a single layer in Ziplock freezer bags. Only for a few months though. When you want them just thaw in the fridge overnight and they’re good to go. She also gave me a “killer” recipe for cucumber kimchee. It’s the most delicious substance on Earth!

    I’m Harmony, btw. Just discovered your site and I’m really enjoying it.

Like this post? Hate this post? Let us know!