Dear vegetarian readers who are squeamish about meat,
This post is not for you. Contained below is a LOT of squealing about meat. And photos of slabs of cow.
With loving regards,
It’s been a fair while since I posted a Korean recipe up here, but here’s one that I’ve been wanting to blog for awhile – with the perfect opportunity provided by the lovely folks over at Cape Grim Beef. When I was offered a sample of their products to review, I quite quickly jumped at the chance to request a side of beef short ribs – an incredibly popular cut of beef in Korea and one that is used in a number of ways.
For those of you unfamiliar with Cape Grim (as I was), it’s an area to the northwest of Tasmania which boasts itself as being one of the “cleanest” places on earth in terms of air and water purity. It is here that a group of 40 beef farmers graze their “hormone free, GMO free, antibiotic free, grass fed” cows, which in turn means that all these qualities can be said of the meat that comes from them. In fact, at first glace, I was absolutely astonished by the quality of the cuts that I had been provided with – the short ribs I get from my local butcher have no marbling whatsoever and big hunks of fat which requires excessive trimming, but these ribs from Cape Grim were just glorious!
No, this is not wagyu beef. It’s Cape Grim beef.
In fact, I was so impressed with how beautiful the meat was that after receiving my delivery at work, I then proceeded to waggle the package about and ask my colleagues to “check out my massive piece of cow!”
Which (to be fair) probably isn’t the most work-friendly sentence to be uttering, and justifiably led to quite a few guffaws from the folks seated around me…
But I digress.
At any rate, I couldn’t wait to get home that evening to rub my hands lovingly all over the thick…juicy…tender…
Well, you get the point.
The problem with the preparation of bbq beef short ribs in the Korean method is that you tread a very fine line between undercooked and beef jerky. If you’ve had Korean bbq at a restaurant before, you may have experienced this yourself (unless it’s one of those restaurants where the waiters cook the meat for you). The meat on the bone is sliced into one long piece that should not be any more than 5mm thick, and with no additional basting during the cooking process, moisture can be lost very quickly.
Personally, I like to cook them at quite a high heat so that I get some of that lovely char and caramelization of the sugars in the marinade but so that the meat is only *just* cooked in the centre, and what I found with the ribs from Cape Grim was that the intense marbling not only kept the ribs succulent during this short, intense burst of heat, but they were also so achingly tender that the pieces just seemed to melt on the tongue – like you can taste the happy, if you know what I mean.
Now as far as the Korean bbq beef short rib recipes go, there are quite a few variations out there, but the below is our family recipe for the sweet soy marinade that you will find at every single Korean bbq place on earth (though everyone has their own way of making it). It is the one recipe that every Korean who has grown up with this dish will recognize, as well as be able to pass judgement on – but I can tell you that my mother’s always receives high praise so if you stick with this one, you can’t go wrong 🙂
Korean sweet soy marinated bbq beef short ribs
3.5kg untrimmed beef short ribs (approx 3kg trimmed weight)
2 large ripe Nashi/Asian pears *
1 large Fuji (or other sweet) apple *
1 large onion *
6-10 large cloves garlic
1 cup Korean cooking soy sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup rice or (preferably) pure malt syrup
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
* Try and get nashi pears, onions and apples of roughly the same size – around the size of an adult fist
1. Beef short ribs generally won’t come cut into individual pieces, so make sure your butcher is at least able to cut them into lengths so each piece of bone is no more than about 7-8cm long, then cut between each bone so you have individual pieces as below.
2. Trim any large pieces of fat (generally found above the main piece of meat and on the bone), then place the ribs in a large bowl and cover completely with water to bring the blood out of the meat. Leave for 1 hour, then drain out the water and strain the ribs for 1 hour, to allow any excess water to drain away.
3. While the meat is soaking/draining, you can prepare the marinade. Blend together the apple, onion, pear and garlic, then work through a fine sieve so you only catch the juices. Throw away the solids, then add the soy sauce, sugar, malt syrup, toasted sesame oil and salt and pepper and mix to combine.
4. Once the meat has drained, you will need to cut along the bone, then “unfold” the meat by cutting along each side as in the photo to the below right (this can take some practice). Go slowly, and try and keep the meat of uniform thickness to about 5mm thick.
5. Once the meat has been “opened up”, you will need to take the rib piece and dip it into the marinade.
6. Loosely fold the meat back around the bone in the OPPOSITE direction (this ensures it stays loose with gaps for the marinade to soak in) then place in a large clean bowl. Repeat with the remaining ribs, then pour in the left over marinade.
You want to marinate the meat for 6-12 hours, making sure to turn the ribs over halfway to make sure they’re marinating evenly.
Once that’s done, fire up your barbeque/grill/frying pan/any other heated surface and cook away to your heart’s content!
As far as side dishes are concerned (as they always are for Korean cuisine), you can pretty much serve anything you like, though there should definitely be some kimchi on the table – and if you’re cooking for old-school Koreans like my folks, some thinly sliced fresh garlic and green Korean chillis along with some gochujjang (Korean chilli paste).
This is a fantastic dish to share with your family or a group of friends, and if you really wanna wow your friends at your next BBQ then try this on for size!
Next up – a take on the favourite Asian fruit & cream sponge cake, so stay tuned till next time 🙂
* The ribs used in this post were provided with courtesy by Cape Grim Beef for review, but all thoughts/views/content is my own