It’s always a special treat when my mom preps Kalbi short ribs, the iconic grilled Korean beef short ribs that are perfectly savory-sweet with rich umami flavor. They’re seriously the best & they couldn’t be easier to make at home!
It all starts with a kalbi marinade. It packs a big punch of flavor thanks to bold aromatics like onion, garlic, ginger, & sesame oil, while generous amount of dark brown sugar provides sweetness for irresistibly charred grill marks. This marinade is a recipe we that comes to us from my maternal Grandma Marian, so its sweetness a little more Hawaii-style than traditionally Korean. (Be sure to check out the blog post, above, to learn all about Korean vs Hawaii kalbi!)
Pour the marinade over thin-cut flanken short ribs, then leave it to really soak into the meat – the longer you can marinate the better!
At dinnertime, simply light up the grill or broiler, cook for a few minutes per side, & serve alongside your favorite banchan or a couple scoops of rice & mac salad for the perfect quick & easy meal! ♡ Happy grilling!
- 2 pounds flanken beef short ribs
- ½ cup shoyu or soy sauce (see Recipe Notes)
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons mirin (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- optional: 1 tablespoon gochujang
- optional: 1 small Asian pear, peeled & finely grated
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled & finely grated
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated (about 2 tablespoons grated)
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: rice, Hawaiian mac salad, kimchi or other banchan of choice, etc.
- Prep the kalbi marinade & marinate the short ribs: Add the shoyu, brown sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, sesame seeds, gochujang (if using), grated pear (if using), grated onion, green onion, garlic, ginger to a baking dish. Season with 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Whisk to combine. Add the beef short ribs to the baking dish, pressing down to ensure they are completely submerged in the kalbi marinade. Cover & marinate in the refrigerator at least 12 hours or up to 3 days – the longer the better!
- Prepare the grill: About 30 minutes before you’d like to begin grilling, pull the short ribs from the fridge to let them come up to room temperature as the grill preheats. Prepare the grill for high direct heat grilling, 550-600 degrees F.
- Grill the kalbi short ribs: Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the grill, place the marinated kalbi short ribs on the grill, shaking off any excess marinade into the baking dish (discard excess marinade). Be sure to place them on the grill such that they’re positioned perpendicular to the grill grates, which prevents them from slipping through as they grill or as you handle them. Grill 2-3 minutes per side, until charred as desired.
- Serve immediately: Serve grilled Korean short ribs immediately, with your favorite banchan or BBQ sides. At my house, we enjoy these grilled short ribs Hawaiian plate lunch-style, with rice, macaroni salad, & kimchi. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Shoyu is the Japanese-style soy sauce used most commonly in Hawaii. Its flavor is a little more rounded & mellow than the most readily available soy sauces sold on the mainland. Aloha Shoyu is my go-to. If you do not have shoyu on hand, feel free to substitute with soy sauce. You can also swap it out with tamari for a gluten-free dish.
- Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine. It’s similar to more well-known sake, though it tends to have a higher naturally-occurring sugar content (from fermentation) & lower alcohol content. You can find mirin in the “international” aisle of most conventional grocery stores these days, though it’s also readily available at Asian grocery stores. Imperfect-yet-quick substitutes for mirin in this recipe include dry sherry or dry vermouth.
- Storage & Reheating: These Kalbi short ribs are best served fresh off the grill, though leftovers will keep for a couple of days. Transfer cooled kalbi to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- Alternate Cooking Methods:
- Oven-Broiled Kalbi Short Ribs: If you don’t have a grill at home or the weather’s simply not nice enough to grill, then try this oven-broiled method instead – it’s the way Mom often prepares kalbi at her house. Preheat your broiler to its highest setting, ensuring an oven rack is positioned directly below it. Place the kalbi short ribs on a lined baking sheet, discarding any excess marinade, then place them under the broiler. Broil 3-4 minutes per side, until the short ribs are charred & caramelized.
- Kalbi Marinade in a Blender: Feel free to skip any chopping/grating of the fresh aromatics & prepare your kalbi marinade in a blender or food processor. Simply add roughly chopped onion, garlic, ginger, & Asian pear (if using) to a blender or food processor with all the liquid ingredients. Blend until smooth, then pour over the short ribs & finish with sesame seeds & sliced green onions. Easy!
- 15-Minute Meal Prep: If you’d like to prep beyond the suggested marinade times above, simply prep the kalbi marinade in advance. Prepare according to Step 1, storing the kalbi marinade in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days – the flavors meld together even more as the marinade sits. When you’re ready to start marinating (12 hours – 3 days before grilling), simply give the kalbi marinade a shake & pour it over the beef short ribs as described in Step 1. Easy!
Keywords: kalbi short ribs, korean short ribs, hawaiian kalbi, kalbi marinade, beef short ribs, hawaiian recipes, korean bbq, easy, grilling & smoking, tender, summer