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.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.