Korean-Style Beef Ribs

While perusing the contents of my freezer today, I came across some of the same ‘flanken-cut’ beef short ribs that I used to make Pepper Steamed Beef Rib a few weeks ago. This time, though, I wanted something grilled and I decided to prepare them Korean-fashion along the lines of the popular restaurant offering known as ‘Galbi’ or ‘Kalbi’.

Many recipes you come across for this preparation, especially the more westernized versions, use a marinade very similar to the typical Japanese Teriyaki blend of soy, sugar and garlic and ginger, but, in Korea, it is quite common to add the juice or puree of Asian pears as this not only helps tenderize the meat but also adds a lovely flavor. I can actually find the right variety of pear in our local stores fairly often but, for this experiment, I decided to try substituting a simple apple sauce instead…

The Ingredients

These are the ribs I am using. These came in two packages and I notice that the ribs from one were cut quite a bit thinner than the other. I will have to adjust for this while grilling, of course, but it will also be interesting to see which affords the better result.

For the marinade, the ingredients are as follows:

  • 1/3 cup plain Apple Sauce;
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar;
  • 3 tbsp. Dark Soy Sauce;
  • 2 tbsp. Rice Wine;
  • 1 tbsp. Sesame Oil;
  • 1 tbsp. chopped Garlic;
  • 1 tbsp. finely shredded Ginger;
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground Black Pepper;

The Method

First, mix the marinade ingredients together and let sit for twenty minutes or so to let the flavors combine.

Now, mix the ribs with the marinade and set aside to marinate for at least two hours, turning them periodically.

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and then put the ribs on a wire rack over a foil-lined grilling sheet. When you are ready, turn the overhead grill on to high and pop the ribs into the oven just a few inches below the broiling elements. Cook for about 7 or 8 minutes on each side and watch them carefully so that they do not burn. If things are going a bit fast under your broiler, you can always lower them away from the heat a little. Once they are cooked through and have a nice bit of charring here and there, remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

The Verdict

The ribs were very good although the thicker ones were still just a little rare in the center. Normally, I like rare beef but for ribs I like them well-done all the way through and so the thinner cut ones suited me the most. The marinade worked really nicely, with the garlic melding nicely with the sweetness, and the apple sauce enhanced it every bit as well as the more traditional pear. Personally, I found that it could have been just a little saltier (and you may wish to add just a pinch if you try this yourself) but my wife liked the result just the way it was.

After photographing the cooked ribs, I cut them into bite sized sections for ease of eating and then served them with rice steamed with millet and black sesame, and a spicy Sichuan pickle on the side. In a proper Korean meal, Kimchi would be a more fitting accompaniment but I had a jar of the Chinese pickle waiting to be tasted and it made a very suitable and tasty substitution here.

This, by the way, is the pickle I used. I bought this jar just before we moved to our new house and, in the interim, the label fell off and got lost. The lid doesn’t provide much information other than the manufacturer’s identity and so I am not entirely sure what goes in to the product. At first, I thought it might be pickled mustard, but the texture of the vegetable is quite a bit firmer and chewier than the brine pickled varieties I usually use so I am still somewhat stumped. In any event, the vegetable (whatever it is) comes preserved in a spicy chili oil and is very good indeed. I’ll keep an eye out for the product next time I am in the south, if only for the pretty jar it is a packed in, which I intend to keep for re-use after the pickle is gone…



  1. Love Korean ribs!! I’ve never tried a recipe with apple sauce but it sounds intriguing. I’ve seen a few recipes that call for Asian pears but I never remember to buy one when I’m at the store. I usually use a combo of sesame oil, soy, sugar and lime..These look perfect too — crispy and charred, just how I like them!

    1. Actually … I’m not a huge fan of lime but I think that a bit of llemon juice in the marinade would be good now that you mention it 🙂

  2. gosh, delicious ribs !!! I’m in love with the marinade, so many flavors and really Korean 😉

  3. Whoa! those cooked super fast! I wasn’t expecting them to be done so quickly. Looks great. Even with the prep-time, looks like a quick and easy meal.

    1. Even the thick cut ribs were no more than about 2/3 of an inch thick and, with pre-heating the oven before putting them under the broiler, they took no time at all. A longer marinating time would be good though…

      1. I wonder if you marinated it with something like apple cider vinegar or pear vinegar whether you would have more tender ribs. Wouldn’t that break down the connective tissues a bit?

      2. I’m sure it would, and I gather the Asian pear has that effect. These ribs were actually pretty tender anyway…

  4. I confess a soft-spot for short ribs, no matter how they’re cooked. I love the Korean flavours too. Yours look most excellent.

  5. I do love Korean Ribs and I haven’t had them in a long time. I have never cooked them. The marinade is very interesting with the apple. I look forward to cooking these and I definitely look forward to eating them! 🙂

    1. The apple sauce is really nice but just a splash of lemon or lime would be nice too!

  6. I must try this. In fact, I think I’ll go tomorrow to get the ingredients. Fortunately it’s not difficult to get Asian pears or kimchi around here. My mouth is watering thinking about that marinade.

    1. I’d love to heare how it worked for you… especially if you try adding a little lime or lemon jucie as per the above comments 🙂

  7. Great post! Might try this with the asian pears. Strangely enough, the most difficult ingredient to get around here would be the beef ribs.

      1. Butchers that still process whole cows by themselves are very hard to find, unfortunately. Mine does with lamb, but with beef the ‘heavy work’ is already done at the slaughterhouse and the ribs are gone.

  8. Those ribs look amazing! The marinade especially gets my tastebuds tingling! Great recipe!

    1. It worked quite nicely, and I prefer apple to the more common usage of pear anyway 🙂

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