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Japanese-Korean Kalbi Short Ribs Recipe

Most Japanese restaurants offer a version of kalbi or marinated short ribs. These are sliced very thin as compared to the American cut short ribs which are chunky pieces. The benefits of thinner slices are shorter marinating and faster cooking times.

Japanese and Korean versions seem similar since both are soy sauce-based marinades. The Korean recipe tends to include sesame seed oil, green scallions and spicy chili peppers while the Japanese recipe will not. You can try both to see which you prefer. I like both.

Adjust the sweetness as you like. Just remember, however, that because the marinade contains a lot of sugar, it can flare up on the grill. Also, the high salt content can make the beef tough and salty if marinated longer than overnight. My sister, Lois Chow, often prepares this Japanese version while her husband Mal does the actual grilling of the meat. It is well loved.

Japanese Kalbi Short Ribs

3 lbs. short ribs, sliced thin
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar*
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

Combine all the ingredients, except for the ribs. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the short rib slices and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least four hours but not more than 12 hours. Grill over hot coals or cook under a broiler.

*I know that my teriyaki-based recipes contain much more sugar than traditional Japanese recipes. That is because sugar was plentiful in Hawaii (where I am from) whereas it was scarce and expensive in old Japan. Do adjust the amount of sugar according to your own tastes but use at least a ratio of 1:2 or the marinade will be too salty and the resulting meat will be salty and tough, too.

Korean Kalbi Short Ribs

2 lbs. short ribs, sliced thin
1 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar*
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced thin
2 red chili peppers, broken in half
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients, except for the ribs and sesame seeds. Marinate the short rib slices in this mixture for at least four hours. Grill over hot coals or cook under a broiler. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

*Korean kalbi is not as sweet as Japanese kalbi.

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