One of the most delicious things I ate while in Hawaii came from a humble food truck. Situated near the very top of O'ahu on the Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku Da Bald Guy food truck serves up the island's best garlic shrimp but also one of the most delicious beef short rib galbi I've ever eaten. Six months on and after Hawaii was a mere sweet memory I couldn't get it out of my head so I decided to recreate their Boneless Beef Kalbi! And while nothing beats sitting and relaxing in Hawaii's cool breeze and sunshine and having someone prepare this for you, this boneless beef kalbi really brings those memories back. This incredibly easy recipe is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
What is Kalbi? Kalbi or galbi is a delicious Korean beef dish using beef short rib. Galbi (갈비) means "rib" in Korean hangeul. The ribs are cut in a style called "LA Galbi" where it is cut through the bone flanken style. The thinnish, bone-in strips of beef are marinated in a sauce of soy sauce, brown sugar and nashi pear (to tenderise it) and are usually cooked on a charcoal grill. However this beef galbi is different, it's boneless and sliced thicker and it is braised in a sauce either in the oven, stovetop or pressure cooker rather than on a barbecue. This means that it's great for making ahead of time, to serve a crowd and you can cook up a lot of this and prepare it ahead of time. Perfect for a food truck or a big party celebration!
Which Cut of Beef Do I Use To Make this Korean Beef Galbi: Getting the right beef cut really matters for the end result. The recipe itself is ridiculously easy but for me, while developing the recipe, finding the exact right beef cut was the hardest bit. I tried all sort of cuts but once I got to the boneless wagyu beef short rib cap I knew that this was it. Korean LA Galbi is cut too thinly for this as it is made for barbecuing. I tried so many butchers but then I went back to my previous butcher Colins in East Village, Zetland (who are amazing, I just moved so it was a bit harder to get there) and they got me exactly what I wanted. I was even lucky enough to get wagyu beef which really, really elevated the result. The price was $45 a kilo which is an absolute steal for boneless wagyu short rib that was perfectly trimmed of fat. Another butcher tried to sell me oyster blade for this and that was terrible. Only use short rib please! If your butcher has an asado style short rib that is also great, just ask for it to have the bone removed.
The perfect cut you need! Boneless wagyu short rib from the cap
What is the difference between beef bulgogi and kalbi? The marinades for both are very similar. Bulgogi is leaner and made using rib eye (or fillet, sirloin or flank steak) while Kalbi is made using short rib.
What to serve with Korean Beef Galbi: At Da Bald Guy they serve it on a bed of rice with a scoop of pasta salad on the side dusted with furikake (Japanese rice seasoning mix). I like serving this with corn cobs or with lettuce leaves for wraps. Also after I take out the beef from the marinade and reserve a bit of sauce for the rice, I skim the fat off the top and cook some sliced exotic mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, king) in the leftover sauce just to get some more vegetables in the meal.
Can I do this on the stovetop, oven or slow cooker? Yep!! Just vary the cooking time. The pressure cooker is of course the fastest at 45 minutes. For ovens and stovetop cook the ribs for 3 hours and for the slow cooker cook for 8 hours.
Other ingredient notes: nashi pear juice can be found at Asian grocery stores or you can blend up a fresh nashi pear. In a pinch if you can't find nashi pear, regular pears or apples/juice can work. Also I put a guide as to how much sugar to use. I find Korean restaurants make things very sweet so if you want to have it just like you do at a restaurant put the whole amount of sugar in, otherwise the lower amount is fine.
Other Short Rib Recipes: I LOVE short ribs so I love cooking them. Try my Short Rib Rendang (Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker Or Stove Top), Beef Short Ribs With Yuzu Kosho, Sticky Glazed Asian Beef Short Ribs, Jamaican Beef Short Ribs With Rice & Peas and Pikliz, Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs With Cauliflower Puree, Instant Pot Beef Short Ribs With Porcini & Chestnuts and Pumpkin With Basil Gremolata and my Sticky Glazed Asian Beef Short Ribs!
As I mentioned I made several attempts at this and while the sauce tasted right pretty much straight away I was flummoxed by the beef cut. On the afternoon I made this batch and tasted it I was so elated that I let out a big WOOHOO and excitedly ran into Mr NQN's office to tell him. He was of course in the middle of a call so I had to stifle my happiness for when he was off the phone. FINALLY, after buying over $140 worth of beef, I finally had my recipe for the copycat Da Bald Guy Boneless Beef Kalbi and I was so happy!
I recently had another exciting moment a few weeks ago. When I knew we were going to Taronga Zoo I quickly googled if they had capybaras and was excited to find that they do! I ADORE capybaras. They're one of the coolest animals ever and have a very friendly and social nature and a chill vibe. Nobody can resist the capybara-even alligators give them rides on their back and they love hanging out with people too.
You can wrap them in lettuce leaves too or eat it with rice and pasta salad
Seeing them in real life was like seeing a celebrity in the flesh. We noticed people sitting in the enclosure feeding them. "How do they get to do this? I want to go to there," I said to Mr NQN and when it was over I spoke to the keeper. It turns out that you can book a capybara encounter but it's not easy and it is a very hotly contested ticket. There are only 4 people allowed in the group and only 1 or 2 groups a day. I was told that I had to go to the zoo entrance before they open at 9am and buy a ticket then. There's no fast track of online way to buy tickets and it is first come first served. It was a Monday morning so my chances were better than on a weekend. "Make sure to get there early though," they said warning me.
I set the alarm to wake up early and had to forego the morning tour in the hopes of procuring one of these precious tickets. I arrived at 8:45am, 15 minutes before they opened. Another family of four arrived after - the son was wearing a capybara t-shirt, and they all wanted a ticket. Then another girl lined up by herself. Then they come out to give you a queue ticket so that the staff know who was first in line when you go in to buy the tickets.
Who would get the tickets? I knew I was first but who knew that? For a second I wondered, "What if this family of four just says they were first? It's four against one". Also the father of the family was doing something a bit odd. He kept standing right in front of me, like he was trying to get me to move or take my place. He was literally inches from me with his back to me right in my personal space. But I stood my ground, I wasn't budging an inch. I may be small but I will fight. I'm basically a raccoon.
However the mother was super lovely and she told her husband several times to move and stop bothering me. She also made sure to say that I was first in line when they came to give us the queue tickets. I went in and bought my ticket and I heard the family asking if they could have four tickets and the other single girl asking if she could have a ticket to the capybaras. I left clutching my ticket tightly and didn't hear who ended up with the tickets.
An hour later it was time for my capybara encounter and I was so excited. I saw the family of four waiting and the mum and I grinned at each other and held up our tickets excitedly. But I also saw the girl by herself waiting there. My thoughts immediately went to the dark side. Was she there to watch us? Or she going to fight me for my ticket? I listen to a lot of true crime and I can't help where my thoughts went!
It turned out that the mother and father had given up their tickets so the their kids and this girl could go. I knew that it was the mother's doing because she was so lovely and mums and women tend to be fairer that way because they're used to making everyone happy. And it was an unforgettable encounter that was enjoyably peaceful and exciting and I didn't have to raccoon fight anyone! :)
So tell me Dear Reader, what exciting things have happened to you lately? Do you like beef short rib?
Korean Beef Galbi
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 10 minutes plus 45 minutes marinating time
Cooking time: 45 minutes in pressure cooker, 3 hours in oven/stovetop or 8 hours in slow cooker
Serves: 4-5 people
- 1.4kgs/3lbs boneless beef short ribs, preferably wagyu
- 200ml/7flozs soy sauce
- 250g/8.8ozs nashi pear or nashi pear juice
- 150g-200g/5-7ozs brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it, restaurants make it v sweet)
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 3 teaspoons Korean chilli powder
- 1/2 cup/125ml/4flozs water
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- Chives and sesame seeds to serve
Step 1- First slice the boneless short rib into 2.5x7.5cm or 1x 3 inch pieces. Place the soy sauce, pear or pear juice, brown sugar, garlic, onion, mirin, ginger and chilli powder in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth mixture. Marinate the ribs in this mixture for 45 minutes at room temperature.
Step 2 a- Pressure cooker instructions: Place the entire mixture including the sauce and the additional water and salt into a pressure cooker and set to cook on high for 40 minutes. Release pressure and then remove lid and gently remove beef pieces (they will be soft). Sprinkle beef with chopped chives or green onions and sesame seeds. Serve this with boiled rice and potato salad.
Step 2 b- Slow cooker instructions: Place the entire mixture including the sauce and the additional water and salt into into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Gently remove beef pieces (they will be soft). Sprinkle beef with chopped chives or green onions and sesame seeds. Serve this with boiled rice and potato salad.
Step 2 c- Stovetop instructions: Place the entire mixture including the sauce and the additional water and salt into into a large cast iron pot with lid. Cover and simmer for 3 hours or until beef is very tender. Gently remove beef pieces (they will be soft). Sprinkle beef with chopped chives or green onions and sesame seeds. Serve this with boiled rice and potato salad.
Step 2 d- Oven instructions: Preheat oven to 180C/350F and have a large, deep baking dish ready. Place the entire mixture including the sauce and the additional water and salt into into a large cast iron pot with lid. Cover well with two layers of foil and bake for 3 hours or until beef is very tender. Gently remove beef pieces (they will be soft). Sprinkle beef with chopped chives or green onions and sesame seeds. Serve this with boiled rice and potato salad.