Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kalbi Korean Beef BBQ

Kalbi Korean Beef BBQ

Let me give you a disclaimer before I begin: I am not Korean. I do not claim to know Korean cuisine at ALL. I am Chinese, German, and Irish, and I can't even say I know many details about those cuisines. However, I do love food, and this recipe is one of the foods I love. There you go.

I grew up in La Palma, California. My parents still live here, and each summer we come back to visit. In this area of SoCal, there is a large Korean population. Two of my three bridesmaids in my wedding are Korean, and when my kids were very little (and still on occasion) I would shout the Korean phrase "Ha-ji-ma!" at them to get them to stop whatever it was they were doing that I wanted them to stop. (By the way, that word shocks most children, regardless of native language, into stopping.) That little phrase that means "Stop it!" might be the best thing I've gleaned from my Korean friends.

The SECOND best thing we've gotten from our Korean friends is this recipe which comes from my parents' next door neighbors. For about a year after the neighbors moved in, my mom and dad would occasionally get this awesome waft of Korean barbecue over the fence. My mom finally asked them what that delicious smell was, and God bless them, the next time they barbecued, they brought over a huge plate of this stuff. Actually, I think it was probably more traditional than what you see here. They usually use a Korean style short rib that is cut across the ribs (see the FoodNetwork recipe). It involves more fat and bones than my mom likes, so she subbed flap meat for the short ribs. The only problem with this, is that the papaya in the marinade breaks down the connective tissue so well, you have to be super careful that parts of the meat don't fall down through the grill. I would say a four-hour marinade is pushing it. I like to go for about 2 hours.

What you end up with is this super flavorful, sweet, tender grilled beef that melts in your mouth. Today we served it with our family's bacon fried rice and mom's Chinese chicken salad. I have to say, it was a superb combo. I love eating at Mom's. I'm never disappointed.

Kalbi Korean Beef BBQ

  • 3-4 pounds flap meat
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/4 cup ripe papaya
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
Put meat into a large zip top bag. 
Combine remaining ingredients in a blender, and then pour over meat.
Seal the bag and smoosh the meat and marinade around to evenly distribute the marinade.
Refrigerate 1-4 hours.
Preheat grill. Grill meat on both sides to desired degree of doneness. (It only takes a few minutes on each side.)

Makes about 12 servings.


  1. I would really like to try your recipe it sounds delish, but please enlighten me; What is Flap meat, that is not anything I have ever heard of in my entire life :) Thanks!

    1. It's kind of like a very thin flank steak kind of thing. It's often used for fajitas in Mexican cooking. Here's the wikipedia article on it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flap_steak), and you should do a google image search so you can see what it looks like.

  2. you're in town - let's eat! warzy

  3. Hi Kelly,
    I came across your "Pie Bites" on Pinterest and started browsing your blogg and I love it! I'm looking forward to trying some of your recipes. The Chicken Pot Pie Soup, this Koren Beef and of course, the Pie Bites. After I read that you are originaly from La Palma, CA and I had to comment. As you know La Palma is about a 3 mile wide city and you RARELY come across others from there. My husband is from there and we lived there 10 years (my daughter was born there as well) before moving to Anaheim Hills. Anyway, I just had to take a minute to say "HELLO" and let you know I really like your blogg and I'm looking forward to tyring some of your recieps. I will be sure let you know how they come out.
    Thanks for being a Food-Pusher! They are my favorite kind of people!
    Chris, forerly of La Palma CA too!

    1. Thanks,Chris! I've never thought of La Palma in terms of how small it really is, but you're right, it IS small. ;)I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. Let me know if you try and like any of the recipes!

  4. Wow, you learn something new every day! Thanks, I'll be on the lookout for this cut. I miss good Korean beef, we lived in Okinawa for years and had lots of friends from Korea who introduced me to do many delish dishes, this is one I would love to replicate at home :) Thanks for the easy recipe!

    1. You're welcome for the recipe! :) Hope you enjoy it!

  5. Hey...I'm from Buena Park (transplanted to Utah) but went to Junior High in La Palma and my siblings went to High School there...woot woot! My hubby makes the best Kalbi...but he's Korean so that's cheating I guess. We have never tried papaya or flap meat so I will have to mention that to him...sounds fun! He has a killer kimchi recipe if you ever need some to go with your Kalbi.
    It's on my blog www.littlebeanfoodstorage.blogspot.com

    Thanks for all your tasty treats and ideas!

  6. One bite into the meal and I was taken right back to the South Bay again. Food Truck Wedding Catering


Hello! If your comment is more of a question about something you are cooking RIGHT NOW, please email me the question in addition to posting it here. I check my email more frequently than I check my blog comments. :)

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