Korean Cuisine : Galbi

We see often enough in Korean dramas where people gather in a restaurant having some kind of barbecue. It’s also the main reason that keeps calling me back to Korean restaurant.

Galbi or kalbi (pronounced gar-bi) generally refers to a variety of gui or grilled dishes in Korean cuisine that is made with marinated beef (or pork) short ribs in a ganjang-based sauce (Korean soy sauce). In the Korean language, galbi literally means “rib” and can often indicate uncooked ribs. In addition, the dish’s full name is galbi gui, although “gui” (grilling) is commonly omitted to refer to it.

Galbi is generally made with beef ribs, and it may be called “sogalbi” or “soegalbi” . Prefix “so” or “soe” (beef) is often omitted. It is also called bulgalbi when grilled over fire. As the literal meaning is “rib”, the galbi dish can also be made with pork ribs or chicken. In such cases, the dish is called “dwaeji galbi”  or dak galbi  to emphasize the main ingredient.


Picture: Galbi after being placed on the grill

The ingredients (often, ribs or meats) are marinated in a sauce made primarily from soy sauce, garlic, and sugar. However, several variations on the marinade exist including recipes that utilize sesame oil, rice wine or hot pepper paste. Fruit juice, lemon-lime soda and honey have become more common additions to Korean marinades in recent years, and is present in some incarnations of the dish.

Picture : Marinated and un-marinated beef galbi

When cooked on a griddle or grill, the meat is usually cut in thin slices across the bones and called L.A. Galbi. This permits the marinade to penetrate the meat faster, allows the meat to cook more quickly, creates a more tender cut, and makes it easier to eat the finished dish with chopsticks. Traditional cut is called Wang Galbi, literally meaning King Ribs. In this version, ribs are into 2 to 5 inch segments, and the meat is filleted in layers away from the bone to form a uniformly thin layer. Wang Galbi is usually what is served in restaurants, as it is the traditional cut and hence considered more genuine. Rarely, if ever, are L.A. Galbi served at top establishments. Pre-cut galbi is available from many meat markets in Korea and elsewhere.

Picture : Marinated galbi before grilling

Galbi is generally served in restaurants known as “galbi houses”, and the meat is cooked right at customers’ tables on grills set in the tables (usually by the customers themselves). It is typically served with lettuce, perilla, or other leafy vegetables used to wrap the meat, which is then dipped in ssamjang , a sauce made of fermented bean paste and red pepper paste. It is often accompanied by side dishes known as banchan.

In Korea, galbi is also a popular picnic food, and many people have portable gas or charcoal stoves for cooking it outside.

Picture : Dwaeji galbi ( pork galbi)

Many Korean dishes incorporate ribs, including soups and stews. Some restaurants serve “pork galbi”, and chicken galbi is a popular specialty of the Chuncheon region.

Picture : Sogalbi (beef galbi)

Galbitang is a clear soup containing pieces of galbi. Galbi jjigae is a thick stew with many large pieces of galbi, usually single bone cuts, which may also contain red peppers, green peppers, kimchi, and doenjang (Korean bean paste). Galbi Jjim is short ribs braised in sweet soy sauce based sauce.

Picture : Galbijjim, braised galbi


  • Dwaeji galbi, made with pork ribs that can be seasoned with a typical ganjang-based sauce or gochujang-based sauce (chili pepper condiment). In the later case, the dish is called “maeun dwaeji galbi”, literally meaning “hot and spicy pork ribs” in Korean.
  • Dak galbi , made with chicken legs although the name contains “galbi”. It is seasoned with a gochujang-based sauce, but “maeun” (매운, hot and spicy) is not prefixed.
  • Tteokgalbi , made with beef ribs and rice cakes.
  • LA galbi made with beef ribs thinly cut across the bone.

Via Wikipedia

Picture : Dak galbi (chicken galbi)

I remember one day when I was in Florida, the Sunshine State, my friend gave me a call asking if I wanted to join him for a Korean meal. I couldn’t remember what gotten into me to say yes. So we drove along the coastline to a beach (couldn’t remember the name, yunno, once you are in Florida, all beaches are the same), and arrived at a tiny Korean barbecue restaurant by the beach.

That time I wondered why come so far for such a small place, we walked in. It was quite dull inside, I let my friend do the ordering.  Then it came this sizzling barbecue platter with marinated beef on top, and as soon as I put it in my mouth, dang, I still remember how good it felt that day. We finished it in no time. From then on, I became their regular customer. However, I would mostly drive there alone because who would want to share your beef? Right? Haha.

3 Responses »

  1. Yummmmyyyyy!!!!
    mouth watering and just by looking at those pictures, you made me want to go to Korean Restaurant right now LOL!

  2. THIS looks awesome I would love to have some maybe if I go to korea In the future I will have a go hehe *yum delicious yum*

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