Korean Grilled Short Ribs

Kalbi Kui

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Direct Grilling Serves


Appears in

Mention kalbi to a Korean and watch his mouth water. Beef short ribs are something of a national obsession here, served braised to fall-off-the-bone tenderness or savored in the delicate soups and soulful stews for which the Land of Morning Calm is famous. But the most popular way to eat kalbi is grilled (kui). Korean chefs have developed an ingenious method for handling this flavorful but hard-to-eat cut of beef: The meat is sliced and butterflied to create a long, paper-thin strip, which is grilled right on the bone.

Dine at a restaurant in Korea and the waitress will set a charcoal-filled brazier in the center of the table. Each person cooks his kalbi to taste, then wraps the meat in lettuce leaves and dips it in a sweet-salty pear sauce.


For the Ribs and Marinade

  • 2 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch lengths and butterflied (see box)
  • ½ Asian pear or regular pear, peeled and cored
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sake or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For Serving


Advance Preparation

  • hours for marinating the meat

  1. Prepare the ribs and marinade: Place the butterflied ribs in a large nonreactive baking dish.
  2. Coarsely chop the pear, garlic, and scallions and place them in a blender with the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, sake, sugar, and pepper. Process to a smooth puree. Pour the marinade over the ribs in the baking dish, cover it, and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 3 hours.
  3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
  4. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the butterflied short ribs on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until done to taste, 2 to 3 minutes per side (4 to 6 minutes in all) for well done (as Koreans tend to like their short ribs).
  5. To eat: Cut the meat off the bone of a short rib and wrap it in a lettuce leaf. Dip the beef and lettuce in the dipping sauce and pop it into your mouth. Don’t forget to gnaw on the bone, which may well be the best part of kalbi kui!