Galbi (Korean-Style Short Ribs)

published Oct 10, 2023
Galbi Recipe

This popular Korean comfort food has an amazing sweet-and-salty marinade with a secret ingredient.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Overhead view of galbi on a light blue platter, topped with scallions and sesame seeds.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

When I need to feed a crowd, I always make galbi (Korean-style marinated short ribs). The meat is so tender and flavorful, and it’s perfect when served with lettuce leaves for making wraps. Galbi is one of the easiest ways to bring Korean barbecue vibes to your kitchen. As soon as you make this recipe, everyone will ask for more. 

The best part: You can marinate the meat ahead of time. It also freezes very well, so you can make a big batch. Then, whenever your friends are coming over, thaw the meat in the fridge for a few hours and cook them on the grill — it only takes a few minutes. And, if you’re just looking for an easy way to make your weeknight dinner extra special, galbi makes for a relatively low-effort, yet impressive meal. 

What Is Galbi? 

Galbi, also known as kalbi, is a type of grilled meat in Korean cuisine. Galbi (갈비) means rib bones in Korean, so typically when the word is applied to proteins, it refers to the part of meat that comes with the bones. Galbi usually refers to beef short ribs, but you can also get pork galbi, which uses spare ribs. 

Unlike English-style short ribs, Korean galbi is sliced cross-cut, or so-called flanken style, with multiple ribs attached in one piece. Depending on the quality of the meat, you can just grill them as they are, although typically it’s marinated in a soy sauce-based mixture first and then cooked and served on the grill. (You can use this marinade with other proteins like spare pork ribs or even bone-in chicken thighs. If you have any leftover liquid, don’t toss it away — you can use it to tenderize any meat.)

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

What Does Galbi Taste Like?

Once grilled, galbi has a slightly smoky, sweet-and-salty taste. Because the beef short ribs get tenderized during the marinating process, the marbling of fat in this cut of short ribs makes each bite so flavorful and delicious. And, because the meat is attached to the bones and cooked with them, the meat stays juicy and tender.

How to Make Galbi

  • Prepare your meat. Soak the meat in water for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours. This step makes sure that any excess blood and impurities from the meat get removed. Once the soaking stage is over, rinse the ribs under running water to clean them before marinating. Be sure to disinfect the sink after rinsing the meat. 
  • Make the marinade. Blend onion, scallions, garlic, ground ginger, and, my secret ingredient, canned pineapple. It makes the marinade naturally sweet and also tenderizes the meat. Then mix in soy sauce, mirin, granulated sugar, toasted sesame oil, and a little bit of black pepper and finish with one cup of water (this ensures that the galbi isn’t overly salty). Let the marinade work its magic for at least 12 hours.
  • Grill the meat. Remove the meat from the marinade, and discard any excess. Heat a cast iron skillet or a Korean barbecue grill pan to cook the meat until well browned and cooked through. 

How to Serve Galbi

The best way to serve galbi is with a plate of fresh lettuce, rice, and ssamjang (Korean spicy dipping sauce). You can also serve it with other banchan, like Brussels sprouts kimchi. Or, make it into a big feast by serving it alongside dishes like japchae and kimchi pancakes

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

Galbi Recipe

This popular Korean comfort food has an amazing sweet-and-salty marinade with a secret ingredient.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds

    thin-cut, flanken-style bone-in beef short ribs (about 1/2-inch thick)

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/2 (8-ounce) can

    crushed pineapple in 100% juice (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons

    water, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1 cup

    soy sauce

  • 1/3 cup

    mirin

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 tablesppon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

Serving options:

  • Steamed rice

  • Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce or perilla leaves

Instructions

  1. Rinse 2 pounds thin-cut bone-in beef short ribs under cool running water, focusing around the bones. Place in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the ribs. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the marinade.

  2. Peel 1/2 medium yellow and coarsely chop. Cut the whites from 2 medium scallions into rough 2-inch pieces. Place the onion and scallion whites in a blender. Thinly slice the dark and light green parts of the scallions, place in a small bowl, and refrigerate (this is for garnish).

  3. Add 4 peeled garlic cloves, 1/2 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, 2 tablespoons water, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to the blender. Blend until smooth and pourable. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of water to make it pourable. Transfer 1 cup of the mixture to a large bowl and discard the remaining or save for another use. If the mixture doesn’t make 1 cup, add a little water to make it to a 1 cup.

  4. Add the remaining 1 cup water, 1 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup mirin, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the pineapple mixture. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  5. Take the short ribs out of the water and rinse them again under cold water. Shake off the excess water and place in a large zip top plastic bag or large baking dish. Pour in the marinade and toss to make sure all the short ribs are coated and submerged into the marinade. Seal the bag or cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

  6. When ready to grill, heat a grill pan or a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, shake off any excess marinade, and place on a plate (discard the remaining marinade). Add enough short ribs to the pan to sit in a single layer without touching. Cook until well browned, cooked through, and charred around the edges, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate and repeat cooking the remaining short ribs.

  7. Let the short ribs rest for 2 to 3 minutes, then cut between each bone with kitchen shears. Garnish with the reserved scallion greens and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice and an assortment of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and perilla leaves.

Recipe Notes

Outdoor grilling: To grill outdoors, heat an outdoor grill for direct, medium-high heat. Place the short ribs in a single layer on the grill. Grill uncovered until browned and charred around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Make ahead: The short ribs can be marinated up to 1 day ahead. They can also be frozen in the marinade for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.