Galbi Jjim

Recently, I had lunch at a new Korean restaurant in my work neighbourhood called Kimchi Korea House.

Kimchi Korea House Galbi Jjim

There has been an explosion of Korean restaurants in this area lately and I had been avoiding them because I am not a big fan of the Korean BBQ thing. I mean, the concept is cute. You sit around the table with friends and grill your own bits of meat right in the built-in barbecue in your table. But the novelty wears off about after an hour when you’re still working on getting full, fumbling around with your chopsticks and your tiny bits of beef. For me, the whole point of going to a restaurant is to have someone else cook for me, not to do it myself.

Beef short ribs

Plus, cooking my own meat while chatting away with my lunch mates often leads to overcooking my own meat. So not only do I have to cook it myself, I’m not doing a very good job of it. And I’m paying $15.95 for this privilege? Nope, Korean BBQ is just not for me.

Beef short ribs

Kimchi Korea House is not a bbq-built-into-the-table kind of Korean restaurant. It’s just a nice, modern place with sleek decor and impeccable service.

Beef short ribs

It’s a little more pricey than the other Asian restaurants in the area. But at least when I’m paying $15.95 for my lunch, someone else is cooking and serving it – and it is really, really delicious and authentic.

Seaweed stems

The best part about Korean food, and the whole reason to go to a restaurant to get it, are the condiments. Little bottomless bowls of spicy kimchi, wakame seaweed salad, bean sprouts, bok choy, pickles….the list goes on. It would be lots of work for the home cook to prepare all of these little things for one meal. But at the restaurant they have bins of it in the back that they are happy to continuously refill your little bowls from.

Enoki Mushrooms

I ordered the “Braised Kalbi Beef”, which in the anglicized Korean form is actually Galbi Jjim. Slowly cooked, meaty beef short ribs with potatoes and carrots, in a sweet and savoury broth. It’s basically the most dreamy form of meat n’ potatoes possible. As soon as it arrived at the table I knew I would be recreating this at home.

Veggies

Turns out, it’s a very easy recipe. This was my first-ever foray into Korean home cooking, so I followed this recipe from A Week of Menus almost exactly.

Kimchi

Acquiring the ribs was actually a little bit of a mission. You see, the way the ribs are cut really matters here. You can’t just buy the typical rack of beef ribs. They need to be cut across the bone, and not too thin, which is hard to find at the typical grocery store. And you’re not going to be cutting through beef bones at home. That would be difficult and downright dangerous without the proper equipment. You can either hope for the best at a butcher or you can go to the real experts at the meat counter of an Asian grocery.

Wakame salad

I ended up at Thanh Phat Asian Supermarket in Guelph, where they not only knew exactly what kind of beef ribs I was asking for but were happy to cut it to order with their crazy meat saw. I also picked up a pound of soba noodles for $4.95 and 10 japanese eggplants for $1.95. Those, my friends, are extremely reasonable prices. I will definitely be returning there for my future asian grocery needs.

Braising the meat and veggies

This recipe is obsessive about the meat being “clean”. At first I thought it silly to soak the meat, then boil the meat, then wash both the meat and the pot, then boil it again. But when I saw all the crud that came off the meat after the first simmer, I realized that this method effectively rendered most of the fat out of the meat while tenderizing it, which was actually genius. I had been wondering how, in the restaurant, they had managed to cook the beef to tender perfection and not get the “fat slick” that you would expect to find floating on the surface of the broth. It did require a little skimming towards the end of the cooking time, but not nearly as much as I expected.

Galbi Jjim

Did I mention they also had salted seaweed stems at the asian grocery? I picked up a package of it and made a little wakame sesame salad in the hopes of resembling a restaurant-style Korean meal. There was no way I was going to attempt home-made Kimchi, however. I shall save that endeavour for another time. The Kimchi for this meal came from none other than a take-out order from the very same Kimchi Korea House. A colleague had ordered Udon soup and didn’t want the small container of Kimchi they included in the bag so I yoinked it in anticipation of my upcoming Galbi Jjim feast. Always thinking ahead, I am.

Galbi Jjim

I mentioned above that I followed the recipe almost exactly. The one thing I changed was the amount of water in the sauce. I was suspicious about the quantity of soy sauce (1 cup), thinking that it would end up too salty. Sure enough, when I tasted the sauce mid-way through the braise it was indeed closer to a saline saturation than a tasty broth. Not to worry, adding 2 additional cups of boiling water while there was still lots of cooking time did not affect the outcome of the tenderness of the meat. It came out perfectly.  Always trust your instincts, my dear readers. When you know 1 cup of soy will be too damn salty, put less in and/or use a sodium-reduced variety.

Galbi Jjim

So, here you have it. Galbi Jjim!

Galbi jjim

I was so enamoured by the wafting cooking smells that I completely forgot to make rice! Ah well, this meal is hearty enough on its own with the big chunks of beef and potatoes.

Galbi Jjim

Here’s the recipe! I’ve adapted it so that it is not over-salty, but it’s a good idea to taste it mid-way through the second cooking to suit your own taste.

Galbi Jjim

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6 Comments on “Galbi Jjim”

  1. February 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    I never dared to cook Galbi Jjim even though I’m a Korean. The recipe kinda scares me cuz of all the prepping. It’s awesome that you cooked it and it looks so tasty! Wow! Looks just like a magazine cover or something 🙂

    • February 28, 2013 at 6:08 am #

      Thanks! There were a lot of steps but it’s really easier than you think!

      That is a great compliment coming from a Korean 🙂

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