Cook, Pop, Cook: Galbi Jjim
As a disclaimer, I’ll say this recipe is not for the faint of heart. I normally try to cook healthy recipes for my family; this isn’t one of them. The beef isn’t lean and discarding the fat is a no no. So if you’re not a fan of braised fat or eating meat off the bone we are friends off you’re not going to like this recipe much.
Korean BBQ is pretty popular in most Metropolitan areas, so most people are familiar with galbi – Korean beef short ribs. Served bone-in or cut into cubes, the beef is usually grilled over high heat and results in juicy meat and chewy tendons. Not as many people are familiar with galbi jjim – braised Korean short ribs (jjim is a method of cooking where meat is steamed or boiled). This is because most restaurants don’t serve galbi jjim. In fact, it’s usually a dish reserved for special occasions like weddings. The braising results in meat that is fall-off-the-bone tender and the tendon becomes like butter. So crash a Korean wedding if you’d like to try it. Or just follow my recipe. After all, what occasion is more special than a family dinner? Don’t you love your family enough to make this for them?
To make this recipe, it’s easiest to visit an Asian grocer. If there’s not one near you, you could try to get the short ribs English cut at your grocery store or butcher. The other ingredients are wine, radish, carrots, soy sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar – all of which should be available at your grocer. Some other ingredients people put in are shiitake mushrooms, pine nuts, chestnuts or jujubes.
As vaunted as this dish is, it’s pretty easy to make. The vegetables are chopped into large chunks so you don’t need any knife skills. The beef is stewed so you don’t need to worry about overcooking it or making nice grill marks. The only complication is you need to soak the meat repeatedly, so you’ll have a few large bowls to wash afterward.
Enough talk. Let’s begin.
If you’re in the DMV, and particularly near Silver Spring, go to Korean Korner (Viers Mill & Randolph). Most Koreans in the area know that they have the best meats for Korean food. I’m not sure why; this is just the rumor, and if you know Koreans, rumors are as good as facts. I didn’t have a chance to get out to KK, so I had to settle for an Asian grocer near our home and the beef wasn’t nearly as good.
Typically, you’re looking at $3-$5/lb for English cut ribs. Since it’s served with the vegetables and rice, you can usually plan on 0.5/lb per person; 1+lb/person if you’re feeding ravenous carnivores. This recipe is for 2+lbs of ribs – scale accordingly.
Put the beef into a large bowl and soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes. As I said before, I’m not really sure why Koreans/Asians soak beef–probably to do with getting rid of the blood–but I’m a pretty obedient Korean boy, so when momma says soak the beef, I’m gonna soak the beef.
While that’s soaking, make the marinade: 6TBS rice vinegar, 6TBS of red wine, 4TBS of sugar. Dissolve as much of the sugar as possible.
Drain the water from the beef. Throw the beef into a bowl–I usually like to use a new bowl for the marinating, but you can reuse the same bowl if you’d like–and pour the marinade over top. Now fill the bowl with water until the beef is fully covered. Give that a soak for 30 minutes. If you’d like to reduce that time, increase the ingredients in the marinade proportionally and use less water to cover the beef.
As the soakin’ time for the beef comes to an end, it’s time for it to get in the hot tub! Boil a large pot of water, drain the marinade from the beef and throw the meat into the bowling water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the beef and rinse it in cold water and remove any loose pieces of fat, if you’re so inclined.
If you have a dutch oven–we have a Member’s Mark dutch oven, which was $38–heat it over medium heat; otherwise, use a large pot. Once the dutch oven is hot, put the beef in and sear it.
While the beef sears, prepare the sauce: 2C water, 5TBS soy sauce, 5TBS red wine, 5 cloves of garlic minced, 2TBS rice vinegar, 2TBS agave nectar (or brown sugar), 1TBS garlic powder, and 1 green onion sliced.
After 3 minutes of searing, mix the beef around and sear for another 3 minutes. Then throw in the sauce – don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t fully cover the beef. SIZZLE!
Put the lid on and let that cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes.
While that’s boiling cut up 1lb of radish and 3-medium carrots. If you’d like, add 1/2 an onion. I usually love cooked/caramelized onions, but they become a little too soggy for me in this dish. I like to add 3 green Korean peppers – you can find them at most Korean grocers and they’re not spicy at all.
Here’s the galbi jjim after 30 minutes.
Some people like to put the veggies in with 30 minutes left in the cooking time; I like to put them in for at least an hour because the radish and carrots absorb all the flavor. Throw in the veggies – once again, don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t fully cover the ingredients. Mix well.
Over medium heat, bring that to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for an hour, stirring from time to time.
Halfway through, you can add potatoes or mushrooms if you’d like.
Here’s the galbi jjim after an hour. Poke or try a piece of the beef – if it’s to your liking move on to the next step, otherwise, continue to simmer over low heat.
Give it another mix, turn the heat up and bring it to a boil.
Some people like to reduce the sauce all the way – I like to leave some to drink pour over my rice. So typically, I boil it for about 10 minutes. And you’re done!
Easy? Yes. Time-consuming? Yup. Lots of dishes to do? Certainly. Delicious? Absolutely! Galbi jjim is easily one of my favorite foods, and D1 likes it too!
Having been soaking in all the flavor for more than an hour, the veggies end up being delicious.
The meat is delicious and falls of the bone with little to no effort. Just look how clean the bone is:
The meat is so tender, that I think you can eat it without teeth. If I ever lose all my teeth, I’ll ask my wife or kids to make me galbi jjim or braised pork belly every day.
*sigh* doing food posts in the morning sure makes me hungry.
So give it a try and let me know what you think! For those that have made galbi jjim before, what else do you put in there?