Despite the neverending rain, the lure of the grill has been strong. When we ordered our cow last week, we tried to pick up some steaks to grill for dinner – but the farm is out of steak until the next slaughter. We grabbed the last two packages of thin-cut beef ribs instead, and decided to try making kalbi – Korean-style marinated and grilled beef.
We’ve had lots of versions of kalbi, but hadn’t tried it ourselves yet – the important thing is having the meat thin enough that it fully absorbs the marinade and cooks very quickly. The recipes in our Korean cookbooks used malt syrup for the marinade, which we are temporarily out of, so we pulled a recipe out of our go-to meat cookbook . It worked splendidly, making a sweet, pungent sauce that enhanced the savoriness of the beef.
This was also a great opportunity to eat kim chee, something we’ve gotten wildly fond of in the past year. I’ve been meaning to try making my own, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. In the meantime, we tried a jar of Island Spring kim chee from Vashon Island (a much more local product than I was expecting to find). Following the warning on the label, I opened it in the sink – a very good thing, as the active fermentation in the jar meant that the contents nearly leaped out at me when the lid came off. I set the whole thing in a soup bowl and watched as the top layer of cabbage seethed and bubbled. The taste turned out to be quite mild and pleasantly sour – I would definitely buy this again. But I’m also gonna make my own, for sure.
Grilled scallions were suggested as an accompaniment in the marinade recipe. I love love love grilled scallions, especially with Mexican food – there used to be a local taco wagon that served them – but I hardly ever remember to make them. They are really good – sweet, with a little char. We also cooked up a huge pile of collard greens from the farmer’s market, which made a nice foil for the strong salty flavors of the meat and onions.
Oh, and as usual, the weather was too crappy to eat outside, but thankfully not quite wet enough to stop us from grilling. I am really looking forward to some better weather. Really.
Kalbi (Korean grilled beef)
Adapated from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2-3 lbs thin cut ribs or steak
- 1 bunch green onions
Combine the soy, sugar, ketchup, garlic, vinegar, oil and red pepper in a zip lock bag. Put in the meat and marinate for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight in the fridge. Flip the bag occasionally to make sure everything’s getting coated.
Get the meat out of the fridge about an hour before cooking, to let it warm up. Remove the meat from the bag, leaving as much marinade behind as possible, and grill over medium-hot coals until brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Do not overcook!
Dump the whole scallions into the remaining marinade in the bag, then lay them on the grill and cook until soft. Serve with the ribs, along with rice and kim chee.