Los Angeles–style Korean short ribs are “as amazing as anything from Austin to the Carolinas,” said Roy Choi in L.A. Son (Ecco). Softened up by a spicy-sweet marinade, then grilled till “charred and crusty,” they’re our town’s version of American barbecue, filtered through Korea.
I serve kalbi with steamed white rice, macaroni salad, and, of course, kimchi. I was 2 when my family immigrated to L.A. from South Korea in 1972, and for a long time I needed kimchi like a car needs gasoline. “Everything I am comes from kimchi.” You can use store-bought, but I recommend you pick up some kochukaru at an Asian market and make your own in a big pickle jar. You need to give it two weeks’ lead time, and when you’re assembling the ingredients, industrial gloves are “optional but recommended.”
Recipe of the week
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Kalbi with kimchi
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 kiwifruit, peeled
- ½ cup garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ bunch scallions, chopped
- ½ cup mirin
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup sesame oil
- 2½ tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1½ lbs boneless or bone-in short ribs, thinly sliced
- Canola oil
Combine all ingredients but ribs and oil in a blender and puree. Pour the marinade over the short ribs and massage it in. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Heat a grill or grill pan. Season with oil. Grill ribs until charred, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plates or bowls.
Serves 4 to 6.
- 1 cup kochukaru (Korean chili powder)
- 1 cup onion, peeled
- 15 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¼ cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp each kosher salt, sugar, oyster sauce, and natural (not seasoned) rice vinegar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 large napa cabbage, halved
- ½ bunch chives, cut into 1-inch batons
- ½ cup jarred oysters
- 1 tbsp salted baby shrimp
Make a paste by combining first 10 ingredients and ½ cup water in a blender. Puree, then set aside.
In a large bowl, mix 4 cups water with 1 tbsp kosher salt. Add cabbage and soak for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature; drain. Mix chives, oysters, and salted shrimp with ½ cup of the paste and layer between cabbage leaves. Coat cabbage exterior with remaining paste.
Stuff cabbage into a 1-gallon jar and seal tightly (you can split the cabbage halves again if you need to). Keep jar at room temperature for 2 days, then transfer the jar to your refrigerator. The kimchi will be ready to eat in about 2 weeks and can be kept refrigerated indefinitely.
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