Sunday BBQ in the OC – “Galbee” is Korean for “Carne Asada”

galbee (korean marinated and grilled short ribs)
My family got together for a Sunday afternoon of grillin’ and chillin’ out on the patio.

sunday afternoon grilling - plastic glasses on the patio
plastic for poolside
sunday afternoon grilling - plastic utensils and disposable chopsticks
pan-cuisine utensils

Like a normal Korean family, we grilled galbee.

Naturally, we had carne asada tacos to go with it!

What is wrong with my family? Why can’t we be normal?

sunday afternoon grilling - galbee on the grill
galbee chillin’ on the grill
sunday afternoon grilling - galbee, cooked
charred house
sunday afternoon grilling - jahp chae
jahp-chae: korean for “pasta”
sunday afternoon grilling - gogi jun
gogi-jun: korean for “slider”

Why can’t we be like a typical FOB family who makes steamed rice, grills bulgogi, galbee and dahk bulgogi for the one “artistic” sister who doesn’t eat red meat, and everyone walks buffet-style around the patio table using disposable wooden chopsticks to pile our paper plates with glassy, glittering jahp-chae, gogi-jun (battered and pan-fried ground beef patties), ggae-nip (seasoned perilla leaves) and kimchee so high you’d think we were at a Korean church picnic where you can’t go back for seconds because really, would Jesus seventh sinfully go back for seconds?

sunday afternoon grilling - ggae-nip
ggae-nip: my atf bahn chan


Why can’t we be like a typical American family and grill ground beef burgers of questionable quality from Costco, top them with cheese, but not on Dad’s because “don’t forget Dad’s cholesterol, Sarah!” and serve them with potato salad that’s homemade, but macaroni salad from the deli counter at the market because when it’s family BBQ potluck, who really makes homemade macaroni salad?

And rather than even going the semi-normal, though hateful to me, route of fusion wherein we could have bulgogi burgers with gahm (sweet potato) chips or even galbee with potato salad which isn’t fusion anyway because no bahnchan is more Korean than potato salad (!) so never mind, we went to double the effort of two complete and culturally distinct meals that represent the respective ancestries of our family members.

Korean….for the Korean half of our family.

Mexican…for the Chinese half of our family.

It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Of course it does because we live in LA and in LA, only the concept of “drive-time” doesn’t make sense.

sunday afternoon grilling - carne asada taco
taco for south beach diet
sunday afternoon grilling - sahng choo ssam
taco for atkins diet

When I thought about it, though, it really does make sense, given the actual foods we were eating. The way Koreans eat galbee is very similar to eating a taco. For both cuisines, marinated beef is grilled – carne asada for Mexican food, galbee and bulgogi for Korean food. For both, the beef is placed inside a wrapper – tortillas for Mexican food, sahng-choo (red leaf lettuce leaves) for Korean. For both, there are various and sundry “toppings” to add to the beef – fresh cilantro, onions, salsa, and guacamole for Mexican food, ssam jahng (stank nasty fermented soybean paste mixed with hot pepper) for Korean food. Egads! There is even a parallel between my favorite bahn-chan (other than kimchee) ggae-nip, and cilantro – they’re
leaves from the same minty family. I almost had it in me to wrap a tortilla around galbee and chopped kimchee, but someone beat me to it.

sunday afternoon grilling - carne asada
like galbee, but with less asian
sunday afternoon grilling - onions and cilantro
breath freshener
sunday afternoon grilling, salsas and guacamole
always use condiments
sunday afternoon grilling - ssam jahng
ssam jahng: hot stank

Writing out this post, I realize that I have never shared a recipe for galbee, which is probably the number one Korean recipe for which people email me, even though I have never, not once, ever posted about actually cooking galbee.

Just because I’m Korean doesn’t automatically mean I know how to make galbee!

(But I do.)

So here’s the “recipe” (in quotes because galbee marinade is so very personal)

Galbee (Korean Marinated and Grilled Short-Ribs)

This is the “ratio” for making 1 lb of galbee, which is enough for oh, about half a person. Increase the quantities proportionally and you should be fine. If you are accustomed to the way-too-sticky-sweet galbee they serve in kBBQ restaurants in LA, you may want to up the sugar.

I don’t like my galbee sweet.

Toss 1 lb. crosscut shortribs (either have the butcher do it for you, or go to a Korean grocery store, where they sell the meat already sliced) with 1 T. each of sugar and rice vinegar.

In a small bowl, combine 5 T. soy sauce, 2 T. sugar, 2 T. rice wine, 2-3 super finely minced garlic cloves, ½ t. super finely minced fresh ginger, 1 finely chopped green onion (including white parts), 1 T. sesame oil, a dash of black pepper and 2 T. water.

Pour over sliced meat and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Grill on your grill, about 3 minutes on each side. My entire family likes their galbee like shoe leather well-done, whereas I prefer mine just beyond medium-rare.

(** As a side note, you can add half a pureed kiwi to the marinade as a tenderizer.)

** a year ago today, i got my groove back at Jar **
**two years ago today, i actually baked! it was fresh fig and honeyed mascarpone tart in a basil pine nut crust **

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jperlow August 21, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Hey, Don’t sweat not being normal. I’m a Jewish American white boy and I make my own Bulgogi marinade. I call my best friend’s mom halmeoni too.

Roundeye Korean Barbecue (click)


2 zara August 21, 2007 at 1:16 pm

Yeah, who wants to be normal? We call ourselves Jewrican (Jewish Puerto Ricans). So there’s plenty of mom’s matzo ball soup to go with dad’s perneil (Puerto Rican pork shoulder) and what do I cook? Mostly asian.

Ahh well, it’s much more interesting than steak and potatoes!

I’m going to have to try your recipe, it sounds good. Thanks for sharing.


3 sarah August 21, 2007 at 3:33 pm

jperlow: omg! we’re like soulmates! i’m a jewish girl in a korean american body. i swear i make a better matzo ball soup than i do sahm-gyae-tahng.

mango: i have never made puerto rican…looks like i’m going to have to visit you :)


4 jperlow August 21, 2007 at 4:24 pm


Its funny, I know a lot of Asians that are into Jewish cuisine. Especially deli food.

I see that you live in L.A. — have you been to Langer’s Delicatessen yet?

Living in NJ in Bergen County and in close proximity to Palisades Park and Fort Lee, its kind of unavoidable even for a roundeye to be exposed to Korean food. Our community is not quite as large as the one you have in L.A. but its pretty big. I even made my own kimchi. Once.

Make That Funky Kimchi White Boy (click)


5 jperlow August 21, 2007 at 4:27 pm

By the way, thats a wicked Matzo Ball soup. Very well done.


6 SunJun August 22, 2007 at 3:29 am

I’ve never seen a ssam jahng like the one you have there; it looks almost like a sundubu instead. What does your family mix into your ssam jahng? I’m intrigued.


7 SunJun August 22, 2007 at 3:29 am

I’ve never seen a ssam jahng like the one you have there; it looks almost like a sundubu instead. What does your family mix into your ssam jahng? I’m intrigued.


8 zara August 22, 2007 at 5:34 am

Puerto Rican food is yummy. Lots of pork and fried foods like tostones. Mmmm. :)


9 J. August 22, 2007 at 8:35 am

Sarah – love this post. As a Korean who grew up in a primarily white suburb, your lamentations (“zomg why can’t we be normal family!”) remind me of the discomfiture I experienced when my non-Asian friends came over for dinner – my Mom would always serve traditional Korean supplemented with white ppl foods (prepared terribly, of course). Haha, so stressful for young J. :)

Jperlow – Bergen Country reprezent wooo! (Ridgewood, holla) – great blog everyone should check out his posted links.

BTW I am going to tell you something, but be warned, it may blow your mind: Langer’s >>> all other pastrami on the planet. No, it’s true. I lived in Manhattan for 3 years and consumed about as much pastrami (spec. Katz’s) as I could, and Langer’s wins (though it is pretty darn close).


10 ces August 22, 2007 at 3:51 pm

oh man, i am so craving for some BBQ right now! nice site you got here! glad to have landed accidentally since i was thinking of changing my name to delicious life! oh well…


11 Hillary August 22, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Very interesting family you have there! It’s very rare, at least in my experiences, that you hear of Mexican and Korean foods coexisting. The pictures are delicious.


12 Hillary August 22, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Very interesting family you have there! It’s very rare, at least in my experiences, that you hear of Mexican and Korean foods coexisting. The pictures are delicious.


13 sarah August 22, 2007 at 9:57 pm

jperlow and j): langer’s. yes.

pastrami reuben

sunjun: my mom made it, and yes, she does some crazy stuff to ssam jahng. that particular one had soon dooboo AND some ground beef in it. mom also makes a killer one that has canned tuna in it. canned tuna mashed into a paste and added to fermented soybean paste? now that is hot stank.

mango: oooh. tostones.

J again: i totally grew up in all-white neighborhoods all through my childhood. in fact, until i went to berkeley for college, i didn’t even “accept” that i was asian!

ces: you can still change it to delicious life! i’m THE delicious life. however, i do believe there is a site out there called already…

hillary: i am beginning to see more and more of this kor-exican, especially here in LA!


14 Herbert =] August 23, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Lol! Why be normal? Hmm well I am a Peruvian guy who lives in America and loves asian food… Trust me, I don’t wanna be normal, lmao. Well, most of my life I was raised in Peru; we eat lots of seafood in the coast. I mostly cook Chinese, Japanese, and Peruvian food of course. It is a strange combination since Japanese food tends to be mild and Peruvian food is quite seasoned.


15 Anonymous August 24, 2007 at 5:20 am

boy, you are sick an awful lot!!


16 Anonymous August 24, 2007 at 5:20 am

boy, you are sick an awful lot!!


17 Tarie August 24, 2007 at 11:53 am

Wow, I love family gatherings that involve lots of food. :D When the clan gets together we eat lechon manok (roast chicken), lechon baboy (an entire roasted pig), and lechon baka (an entire roasted cow – imagine that on a spit over the grill!). Yes, we really like our lechon. There’s also inihaw na isda (grilled fish), inihaw na baboy (grilled pork – we like our inihaw too), and fruit salad, among other dishes. Man I can’t wait til the next family gathering. You’re lucky you just had one! Oh and one more thing, we usually see the animals alive before we eat them because we get them from our own farms. It adds to the experience. Heehee.


18 Anonymous August 24, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Sarah, isn’t “gahm” a persimmon?? and isn’t “goguma” a sweet potato??


19 sarah August 24, 2007 at 5:29 pm

herbert: ur right! why be normal? that’s boring! i love being abnormal!

anonymous #1: not normally, but this month, such has been the case – i think an unusually high level of stress has my immune system on its knees. allergies kicked into high gear, sore throat that turned into strep, broke out in hives, GI tracts twisted up into knots…i may need a vacation soon.

tarie: wow – sounds like much ado!

anonymous #2: you are absolutely correct! gahm IS persimmon! and goguma IS sweet potato! shows you how korean i really am ;)

making edit now…thanks!


20 Anonymous August 24, 2007 at 7:05 pm

it takes a lot for a blog post to make me laugh out loud and even more for me to want to leave a comment – this particular subject did both!


21 SteamyKitchen August 27, 2007 at 6:07 am

I’m too lazy. I just pour a jar of the Galbi marinade.
(glug glug) its done.

I’ve always spelled it “kalbi” and “kimchi” …but then again, I ain’t Korean. What is the difference in the spelling? Is it a regional thing? or just a personal preference.


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