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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Where There's Smoke...

Fire.  The ultimate cooking weapon.  The moment I spotted  flanken cut beef short ribs at the latino supermarket the other day, I knew I would grill Kalbi or Galbi (Korean beef short ribs)  over open flames. I've always wanted to cook kalbi at home, but have never run across flanken cut short ribs until my recent trek through Super Marcado Aguascalientes market.   Unlike traditional English cut short ribs, flanken cut ribs are sliced across the bone into very thin strips, allowing a very quick cooking time.

The night before I  grilled  the ribs, I marinated them in a combination of 1 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3/4 cups white sugar, 1/2 cup  honey 1/4 cup sesame oil, 5 pressed garlic cloves, 1/2 cup grated onion, a splash of rice wine vinegar, and  1/2 cup of sprite.  Typically, a grated asian pear or kiwi is added.  I didn't have either, so I used sprite for acidic sweetness. Easy.

The following night, before lighting the coals, I sliced a few scallions for garnish, plucked a handful of broccoli florets from a head of broccoli, and pulled leftover asian carryout sticky rice from the freezer to thaw.

That little effort left plenty of time for basketball bracket building along with a few glasses of wine. 

Michael usually starts the fires when we grill.  He knows what he's doing when it comes to flaming things, but I insisted on starting the coals.  Against his advice to use only 1/2 bag of charcoal, I dumped the entire bag into grill before igniting it into a raging inferno.

We had fire.  Thankfully, we still have our house.

While I waited the for the flames to burn down into glowing coals,  I sauteed the broccoli florets in olive oil until they were gently cooked  and re-heated the leftover rice.
After carefully placing the short ribs on the grill, I cooked them quickly for 3 minutes on each side and pulled them off to rest.

It was quick. Boom. Finished.

I think kalbi is traditionally plated with the long strips of grilled meat lying flat, but I chose to wrap the rib strips around the rice, forming meat bowls. I nestled the broccoli florets next to the ribs, sprinkled the beef bowls with scallions, and filled ramekins with ponzu sauce for dipping.

The combination of honey, sugar, and soy sauce caramelized the ribs into savory sweet beef candy.
They were sticky, gooey, and fabulous finger food.  We had forks for the rice and broccoli, but they were covered in kalbi goo.  We were covered in kalbi goo. I had sauce on my neck and elbows. It was everywhere.... and totally worth it. Although relegated to wallflower status at our sticky beef party, the broccoli florets were perfectly cooked and provided a refreashing respite from the beefy insanity.

I can't wait to make kalbi again.

I won't be lighting the fire for the grill. 

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