You know that smell you catch a whiff of during those warm summertime evenings when everybody and their uncle is out in the backyard barbecuing? I’m not talking about that run-of-the-mill grilled hamburger smell that wafts over your neighbors fence every weekend, I’m talking about that intoxicating, exotic aroma of soy and garlic marinated beef mixing with the sweet smell of wood smoke. Haven’t smelled it? Well, odds are you don’t have a large Korean population in your neighborhood, so let me frame this scenario a little differently. You know the Korean spot in your local mall’s food court? You know that ridiculously enticing aroma you smell each time you walk by? That’s probably kalbi, or marinated and grilled beef short ribs.
While beef short ribs have grown in popularity over the past few years, I’m surprised to learn that many people have never had them prepared in this style. They are a notoriously tough cut of meat that benefits from long periods of slow, low-heat cooking, but when cut in the flanken style (perpendicular to the bone), marinated in a sweet and salty aromatic mixture for a couple of days and cooked quickly on a hot grill, you have a whole different experience at hand. This is the type of eating that is perfectly suited for the backyard. In fact, this is the type of dish that allows one to get in touch with their primordial ancestry. This isn’t filet mignon were talking about, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Kalbi requires a good set of chompers and a willingness to get your hands (and face) dirty pulling the sweet, succulent meat from the three tiny bones that run the length of the rib. In my mind, a little messiness is well worth the experience of eating these sweet and savory morsels. Not only do they pack an incredibly beefy flavor, but the perfect amount of charring on the grill will bring out the soy, garlic, sesame oil and sugars in the marinade, perfuming the air with a mix of aromas that are certain to get your salivary glands flowing.
Next time you’re looking to grill something a little bit out of the ordinary or spot some beautiful flanken-style beef ribs at the grocery store, do yourself a favor and try out this recipe. Your neighbors are guaranteed to be jealous.