Korean short ribs are tender and grilled in 5 minutes flat. You’ll love this quick, easy, fall-off-the-bone recipe (also known as Korean BBQ, LA galbi, or kalbi).
Korean Short Ribs: Why You’ll Love Them
- These succulent beef ribs are super quick cooking – 3 minutes on the first side, 1 minute on the other.
- The flavors are so delicious, with rich soy sauce and honey marinade. Sweet, savory and completely addictive.
- Craving fall-off-the-bone tender ribs? Look no further than these.
What cut of meat is Korean short ribs?
Korean short ribs (the kind of beef used in Korean BBQ and Korean kalbi) are thinly-cut flanken-style beef ribs.
You find them in most well-stocked grocery stores, but the thinness of the cut varies.
Korean beef is different from European-style short ribs, which consist of a longer piece of a single bone and a larger chunk of meat. It comes from the same part of the cow (the rib) but for Korean short ribs, it’s just a tiny portion of several bones across the ribcage and a thin slice of the meat between them.
What are Korean short ribs made of?
- Thinly-cut beef ribs: see above. Flank-style beef ribs are inexpensive and can either be cooked quickly over high heat (as was done here) or simmered slowly on low heat until tender. If you can’t find them, substitute a flank or skirt steak, and serve it sliced thinly crosswise over rice. Do not substitute pork ribs, which require a long cooking time to be tender.
- Asian pear: this secret tenderizing agent contains a protease enzyme that breaks down meat for fall-apart results. If you can’t find Asian pear, substitute 1/4 cup pineapple juice (it also has tenderizing enzymes and the flavor works beautifully here.)
- Soy sauce: this doubles as the seasoning (in place of salt) as well as adding savory naturally-occurring glutamate that give the sumptuous umami richness.
- Ginger, black pepper and cayenne: for flavor and subtle heat. This is not a spicy recipe.
- Honey: for sweetness. You can substitute brown sugar or maple syrup. Now these delicious ribs hit all of the tasty notes.
Are Korean short ribs tough?
If you’ve had tough short ribs, there are a couple of important notes to keep in mind.
- For ultra-tender, fall-apart Korean short ribs, choose the thinnest cut you can find. A tenderizing marinade can’t get very far into the meat, so if your slice is thinner, the further it will penetrate.
- Cook them only for a short amount of time. On the first side, cook them long enough to get nice grill marks. On a preheated grill, this is about 3 minutes. Then flip, and only cook on the second side to cook the surface; about 1 minute.
- Be sure to choose bone-in short ribs for tender ribs as the bone insulates the meat, keeping them juicy.
Thin-cut Korean short ribs are almost always tender as long as you don’t overcook them. Thicker short ribs that are intended to be braised need to be simmered for a very long time to break down the collagen for tender results.
Korean short ribs are usually cut 1/4″ or 1/2″ thin. Cut 1/4″ thin, they will grill faster, be more tender, and have the marinade penetrate more fully. The tradeoff is that they fall apart more than the 1/2″ thick ribs. For beautiful presentation, choose thicker ribs. For succulent, more tender ribs, go with the thinner option (but expect some of them to fall off the bone before they hit the plate).
Another name for Korean short ribs is kalbi, LA galbi, or simply galbi.
How do you serve Korean BBQ ribs?
Serve these juicy short ribs topped with thin-sliced scallions and/or sesame seeds. Great side dishes include:
- short-grain white rice
- a quick salad made from julienned (julienne peeler here) carrots and cucumbers lightly dressed with rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar and salt.
How to make them
- Blend all the marinade ingredients to a blender or food processor. If you don’t own one, grate the pear and onion into a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Coat the short ribs with the marinade and refrigerate for up to 48 hours (a quick 30 minutes at room temperature is ok, but they won’t be as tender or flavorful).
- Grill the ribs, or instead cook them in the oven directly under a preheated broiler, on the stove top on a lightly-oiled stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat, or in an airfryer for about 5 minutes on the highest heat setting. For a slow-cooker version, check out my juicy Crockpot Korean Short Ribs recipe instead.
Korean Short Ribs Recipe
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ Asian pear
- ¼ medium onion
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 ½ tbsp finely-grated ginger
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp cayenne
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 ¼ lbs flanken beef short ribs 1/4" to 1/2" thick
- Combine all marinade ingredients (everything except the beef ribs) in a small blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour over ribs in a shallow baking dish and stir to coat evenly. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Grill ribs over direct heat for about 3 minutes on the first side (or until ribs release easily and are well marked), with lid closed, then flip and cook 1-2 minutes on the other side. Transfer to a serving plate, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
- If you don’t have Asian pear, substitute 1/4 cup pineapple juice (it also has tenderizing enzymes and the flavor works beautifully here.)
- You may substitute brown sugar or maple syrup for the honey.
- Instead of grilling, ribs can be cooked directly under a preheated broiler, on a lightly-oiled stovetop grill pan, preheated for at least 5 minutes over high heat, or in an airfryer for about 5 minutes on 390ºF.
- 1/4″ thin ribs will grill faster and are more tender and the marinade penetrates more fully, but they fall apart more than the 1/2″ thick ribs. For beautiful presentation, choose thicker ribs.
- Substitute gluten-free tamari for a gluten-free version.
Last Updated on January 16, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD