For those that don't know, I'm half Korean. My mother, her mother, and her grandmother were all born in Hawaii, part of a the first wave of Korean immigrants to settle in the islands in 1903. (They recently celebrated their centennial—100 years in America [though Hawaii was not a state then]— and if you are interested in learning more, you can google "Korean Centennial.")
Growing up, my mother (who is an excellent cook) made a wide variety of foods. She's adept at Korean cooking, but because she spent so many years living in Italy (my dad is Italian) she is especially talented at cooking Italian food. And, because she grew up in the 1950's in the U.S., she cooks "American food," too.
We often had things like meatloaf and beef stew growing up, and those dishes are comfort foods to lots of us, myself included, but my true comfort food when it comes to wintery stews are Korean beef stews. I think it's because somewhere deep down it makes my Korean genes happy. (I just linked another easy recipe so today you get a two-fer!)
Today's recipe is one you may want to try if you are in the mood for beef stew but would like to try an easy twist on the usual. There's nothing in the recipe you won't recognize, and it's easily adaptable to suit your taste. I make it on the stove in about 30 minutes (no, really!), but you could also "set it and forget it" with a slow cooker. I'm not sure how to adapt recipes for slow cooker, but perhaps someone who knows can post in the comments. Here goes!
KOREAN BRAISED SHORTRIBS (KALBI JIM)
So easy it's ridiculous. Serve with steamed short-grain (sushi) rice and kimchi if you are lucky enough to have access to a store that sells it.
- 5 pounds of beef short ribs, rinsed, trimmed of fat, and patted dry (see photo below)
- 5 carrots, scrubbed, cut into large sections (I cut each one into three pieces)
- 1.5 cups of low-sodium soy sauce (or regular if you prefer)
- 4-5 tablespoons of sugar (white, brown evaporated cane, whatever you prefer)
- 3 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
- 5 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
The short ribs (easily obtained at a Korean market) should be thick and chunky like the photo below. Check with a supermarket that has a reputable butcher and you should have no problem finding these:
In a large pot, combine all of the above ingredients along with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Don't worry if all the ingredients aren't covered by liquid, it will be as it cooks. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until meat has shrunken away from the bone, but isn't falling off. Stir occassionally. (This cut of beef is already very tender and does not require long simmering.)
Serve while hot in shallow bowls so the rice soaks up some of the delicious sauce.
If you want to serve this the next day, let it cool then skim off the fat before reheating.
Variations: Traditionally, daikon or Japanese radish is included in this stew. If you want to use this, simply peel and cut one daikon (navel orange-sized) into 2-inch chunks. If you don't want to add daikon, you can also add a 3 or 4 of halved waxy potatoes like Yukon golds. Lastly, a slice or two of fresh ginger is nice in this. Remove it before serving.