It is time. It is indeed time to share the lengen -wait for it- dary recipe for Korean barbecue ribs. Every time I’ve asked someone what their favorite Korean dish is, it always is “Korean barbecue.” Every time I have people over for a barbecue, it is the first thing to be devoured as if it never existed in the first place.
Korean barbecue is like no other. It has a plethora of sweet and savory flavors, with ingredients such as garlic (of course), mirin, to even pear. I find the most important flavor to come from sesame oil, a highly underrated oil in the culinary world.
After visiting family in Vancouver and sharing each others’ recipes, I learned the true technique of the beloved Korean barbecue ribs from my aunt (I owe all of this knowledge to her) that apparently many restaurants use. I’ve made these plenty of times before (minus the use of pear), but I found mine tended to uncontrollably catch on fire over the hot coals, due to the giant chunks of garlic and onion stuck the meat. This version leaves the ribs flavorful and tender, without questionable black chunks embedded into your meat.
This specific cut of ribs can either be really easy to find or incredibly difficult. The short rib is always found in Korean markets; however, you can most likely find them in random markets. I know, that’s incredibly specific and helpful. Living in Pensacola, in the land of hillbillies and rednecks, I was (somehow) able to find this cut at Sam’s Club (Walmart’s version of Costco. Yes, we have become Walmart people). The rib meat is critical for this dish; steak can be used as a substitute but I suggest searching high and low for the proper cut. One of the most important components of this dish is the specific texture of the short ribs.
When picking out your ribs, make sure the meat is well marbled. This area of the cow tends to be fatty so be careful not to choose a pack that is loaded with too much fat.
This recipe is the perfect amount for two people. Or one. If you dare.
First: take your ribs and soak them in cold water for an hour (while draining and replacing the water every 15 minutes or so). This bleeds out the ribs, making them extremely soft. I know, this looks like a gruesome discovery of human body parts in a sink, but I promise, this technique works and is essential.
Second: as the ribs are soaking, start your preparation for the marinade. Take 3/4 of a whole onion, 1 whole pear (whichever type of pear you can find), 6 cloves of garlic, and about 1 cup of water and either blend or put it in the food processor. Once liquified, pour into a sieve over a large bowl and drain out the liquid. Throw away the solids.
Third: mix into the liquid about 3/4 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of sesame oil, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Add ground pepper. Mix. Oh, and if you have mirin on hand, put about 1/4 cup of that in. I honestly, completely forgot.
Fourth: take out your ribs and run them under cold water, one by one. While doing this, try to get rid of as much residue off of the meat and bones. A lot of this residue will come off during soaking as well. You will also see a great difference from when you first opened the package to now. It will have gone from a healthy red to a ghastly pale red.
Fifth: take each rib and with the back of a knife, start tenderizing the meat. Place these on a rack and let sit for 30 minutes.
Sixth: in a deep baking dish or container, place these ribs and pour the marinade in parts, layer after layer. Make sure all of the ribs are completely covered with the marinade. Let sit for a few hours and they’ll be ready to be fired up.
Extras: you can use white sugar instead of brown sugar in the marinade. Obviously, you can also adjust the amount of garlic and onion, but in all honesty, this should be the perfect amount. If you feel the need to change it though, how dare you?