6.6.10 A Good Ribbing

Kalbisauce 790 xxx
My dear friend Mirena taught me pretty much everything I know about Korean food—which is actually not that much, but enough so that everyone looks to me to order when we go out for barbecue on 32nd Street. I know how to grill the meat over hot coals and wrap it in lettuce with a smear of fermented soy bean paste; and how to say dumplings (man doo); and that a seafood pancake is a must; and of course that both types of meat—bulgogi (rib eye) and kalbi (short rib)—must be ordered. On my regular stop at Dickson's in Chelsea Market this week, I was pleasantly surprised to see thinly sliced short rib (vertically sliced) all ready for homemade Korean barbecue. I found recipes for the classic marinade and dipping sauce from Jenny Kwan, an owner of a popular Korean restaurant, Dok Suni, in New York's East Village. I picked up a great tip: she has you massage the meat with kiwi juice, a natural tenderizer containing enzymes that break down protein! Now that grilling season is upon us, I think you should give this easy preparation a whirl.
Find some nice grass-fed short ribs and get your butcher to slice them thin. The dipping sauce is salty and spicy and totally addictive. The traditional way to eat Korean barbecue is by dabbing said fermented soybean paste (I made mine with miso) on lettuce leaves and wrapping bits of grilled meat inside, with maybe the addition of some raw scallion or grilled garlic. It's a very fun, hands-on way to dine, and makes for a convivial gathering. I rounded out the meal with my favorite short-grain Japanese rice that is actually brown, not white. Made the traditional Japanese way, you rinse it, then soak it for half an hour before cooking. It's pleasantly sticky and fluffy at the same time. I also picked lots of mizuna from the garden and dressed it in that delicious carrot-ginger-sesame dressing you often get in Japanese restaurants. Perhaps not typically Korean, but damn good nonetheless. Dessert was this coconut-lime sorbet. If you still haven't made it, now's your chance. It's creamy and tart and beautifully perfumed with wild lime. I threw the whole dinner together in under an hour, so don't be thinking it's some big production. Get your grill on!

Kalbi (Korean-Style Grilled Beef)

serves 2-3
  • — 1 pound beef short ribs, cut for kalbi (sliced thinly lengthwise)
  • — 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • — 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • — 2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
  • — 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • — 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • — 1/2 fresh kiwi, peeled and juiced (or just smashed well)
  • — 3 tablespoons yellow miso
  • — 1 teaspoon sugar
  • — 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • — 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • — 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • — 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • — 4 tablespoons warm water
  • Whole crisp lettuce leaves

Distribute the sugar evenly on the beef short ribs by sprinkling it on each piece. Allow beef to sit for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, rice wine and black pepper. Set aside.

Massage the beef with the kiwi juice using your hands. Add the sauce and stir to coat. Let the beef marinate for 2 hours before barbecuing.

Meanwhile, whisk together miso, sugar, lemon juice, minced garlic, Sriracha, peanut oil and water to make the dipping sauce.

Grill beef over hot coals. It will cook in just a couple of minutes per side. You want it to be nicely charred but not burnt. Serve with dipping sauce and lettuce leaves for wrapping.

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