Galbi or kalbi generally refers to a variety of gui or grilled dishes in Korean cuisine that are 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 refer to cooked or uncooked ribs. Although the dish's full name is galbi gui, the word "gui" (grilling) is commonly omitted. Suwon and Los Angeles are particularly known for their galbi.
Galbi is generally made with beef ribs, and it may be called "sogalbi" (소갈비) or "soegalbi" (쇠갈비). The prefix "so" or "soe" (beef) is often omitted when referring to beef ribs. It is also called bulgalbi when grilled over fire. Galbi can also be made with pork ribs or chicken; in such cases, the dish is called "dwaeji galbi" (돼지갈비) or "dak galbi" (닭갈비) to emphasize the main ingredient.
It is listed at number 41 on the World's 50 most delicious foods readers' poll complied by CNN Go in 2011.
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.
When cooked on a griddle or grill, the meat is usually cut in thin slices across the bones. This style of cut, called L.A. Galbi, permits the marinade to penetrate the meat faster. It also allows the meat to cook more quickly, creates a more tender cut, and makes it easier to eat the finished dish with chopsticks. The traditional cut is called Wang Galbi, literally meaning King Ribs. In this version, the ribs are cut 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 traditional Korean restaurants, as the traditional cut is 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.
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 (쌈장), a sauce made of fermented bean paste and red pepper paste. It is often accompanied by side dishes known as banchan.
Many Korean dishes incorporate ribs, including soups and stews. Some restaurants serve "pork galbi", and chicken galbi is a specialty of the Chuncheon region.
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 a sweet soy sauce based sauce.
- Dwaeji galbi (Korean: 돼지갈비) is made with pork ribs that can be seasoned with a typical ganjang-based sauce or gochujang-based sauce (chili pepper condiment). In the latter case, the dish is called "maeun dwaeji galbi" (Korean: 매운돼지갈비), literally meaning "hot and spicy pork ribs" in Korean.
- Dak galbi (Korean: 닭갈비) is 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 (Korean: 떡갈비) is made much like meat balls. Ground beef ribs are clumped together in chunks before being grilled. Rice cakes (tteok) is often grilled with the tteokgalbi, typically at the center of it.
- L.A. galbi (Korean: L.A. 갈비) is made with beef ribs thinly cut across the bone. Its name derives from the way it is prepared; the letters L and A come from the first two letters of "lateral," as the ribs are sliced in this manner. It is prepared in the same way as regular galbi, except that the ribs are cut differently. Because most American butcheries cut ribs rib-eye style, instead of the thicker chunks of individual ribs South Koreans typically do in their own country, South Korean-owned restaurants in Los Angeles made galbi with these thinner cuts of beef with several ribs. This variation has since made its way back to South Korea as well.
- Howard Yoon (August 10, 2005). "A Hard-to-Kick Habit: Korean Barbecue Short Ribs". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
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