Mar 2, 2014

Korean Beef Stew ala Kimchi

People my age would remember Kimchi as a popular restaurant in SM Foodcourt whose specialty is the Galbi Jim, or Korean Beef Stew. Unfortunately though, perhaps with waned popularity and the high cost of leasing and maintaining space in the mall, Kimchi branches have become fewer and fewer, replaced by glamorized 'turo-turos.'

We had friends over for dinner last Thursday and for a treat I decided to make this dish. Initially I considered using one of the recipes I found in Google, but decided winging it, based on what I think should be in it, from the memory of the taste of the dish. (People close to me know that this is how I cook-- approximating flavors from memory.) I think I was able to really come close to the Kimchi recipe. :)  I would probably use a different gochujhang (Korean chili paste) brand, next time though, as this one  wasn't as spicy as I wanted.


What's In It?

1 kg. beef short ribs
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
1 head garlic, peeled and mashed
1 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Chinese cooking wine
2-4 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
Bird's eye chilies (siling labuyo), optional
1 bunch onion leeks, washed and sliced diagonally into 1/2" lengths
Toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

Kitchen Conjugations:

Wash the beef short ribs in cold water, removing slime and fat. Place them in a stock pot, and add in water to the level just enough to cover the ribs. Boil over high heat for 3-4 minutes.

Remove all scum from the broth. Add in all ingredients except the leeks, sesame seeds and chilies. Let boil some more for about 5 minutes, then lower heat to simmer the dish for about two hours. Yes, that long! Could be longer, if you had the misfortune of buying tough meat...

Check from time to time if you need to add more water. Check and adjust seasonings, too. You may need to add more sugar and/or cooking wine should you opt to add water. Add salt (not soy sauce) for a little more saltiness. Warning: adding more soy sauce instead of salt will make the broth too dark.

You can add the chilies at this point if you find that the chili paste has not spiced things up to the level desired. While waiting you can also slice the onion leeks, toast the sesame seeds and steam some rice. :)

This dish is best cooked till the meat gets to fall-off-the-bones tenderness. Test by poking a piece with a fork. If the tines get through without much effort, the meat is tender enough.

Garnish with onion leeks and toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot with steamed rice and sautéed mung bean sprouts (togue) on the side. Enjoy!


1. Do you really need gochujang? Yes, if you want the authentic Korean taste and the reddish tint of the Kimchi resto version. I bought my chili paste from Shopwise. See how it looks like here.

2. Do you really have to use Kikkoman? Yes, or some really good soy sauce.  As this is a stew the meat absorbs and retains the flavors of the stewing broth so it is important that you use good soy sauce (and reserve the inexpensive soy sauce for regular fares like Adobo).

PS: Here's a special shout-out to my friend Mark Samson who introduced me to this dish at Kimchi. Thanks, Mark!