Kalbi Tang (Korean Short Rib Soup)

Quick Look_______________

This is an easy, cheap and flexible dish that can be used to win the hearts of Korean and Chinese alike (Koreans will comment on the good home-cooking and often times this is Chinese people's favorite Korean dish). The clean simplicity of unadulterated beef broth coupled with I'll go over how to make it the traditional Korean way (ironically, I've taught many Koreans how to make this soup), and I'll also offer some different options that may be easier. What's great about this dish is you can initially cook it the night before and finish it off the next day, or you can throw everything in the pot, let it cook, and start preparing other dishes or go away and come back after an hour. It's also great for storage to eat over the course of the week, or to present to someone in a large kim-chi jar as a care package (I've never done this, but I couldn't imagine something that says "I care" better than giving a jar of kalbi tang to a sick brother).


  • 1/3 lb./person: kalbi for soup (don't buy the expensive kind you use for bbq, usually these are rough cuts that are cheaper)
  • Water
  • 6 Peeled Garlic cloves
  • One large onion (optional)
  • 1 large Mu (daikon radish, optional)
  • Pepper
  • Coarse Salt (sea salt or kosher salt)
  • Diced green onion (for self-serve garnish)
  • 1-2 Jalapeno Peppers for a spicy kick
  • Egg
  • Clear Korean Vermicelli noodles


  • Soak the kalbi in water for a few hours. This is to drain out the blood so that when you cook it the blood doesn't come out and congeal into that gunky stuff that floats around and accumulates on the side of the pot. It tastes fine, but it just doesn't look as good. If you buy the kalbi when it is on sale, and then freeze it, you can defrost it by soaking it in water overnight so that it defrosts faster and drains blood too. You may need to pour out the water+blood and add more water a few times.
  • Start boiling water in the pot and add the kalbi. Some people would throw out the first batch of water when it starts boiling and rinse the meat and pot off because it will contain
    some of the initial oil and leftover blood, but I think it's not necessary. It's up to you, and if you didn't get a chance to drain the blood out of the kalbi (freshly bought) it might be good to do this.
  • When the water starts boiling (after you might have dumped the first batch of water) add the garlic cloves, the whole onion (peeled and with the ends cut off) and the jalapeno. Add some salt and pepper. It's better to under salt, and have people salt to taste later on.
  • Boil for about one hour.
  • Cool in order to remove the fat that has boiled off the kalbi. There are a number of ways to do this. One way would be to let it cool overnight, or to let it cool slightly so it isn't scalding hot, then put the whole pot into the refrigerator. Another way would be to put the whole pot into a sink half filled with cold water (changing the water when it gets warm),position a fan so it's blowing on it, and adding ice to the soup. When it cools enough you should start to see thick white chunks of lard floating around. Fish these out and discard.
    (Or save it for making carnitas!) If you let it cool in the refrigerator, it should be a thick white disc that you can easily take off (depending on how much kalbi you used, you will have more or less lard). What you end up with is a cool, fat-free (relatively), slightly viscous broth.
  • You can store this in a large kim-chi container to heat up and eat as you will, or you can start to reheat it for serving.
  • When you reheat it, add the Mu (should be cut up into half crescents about 1/3-inch thick) so that the Mu can cook, and you should heat that for roughly half an hour. If you are adding the vermicelli noodles, now is the time.
  • When you're going to serve it, add the egg to the soup and beat it so that it becomes stringy. Allow people to garnish with green onion and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve this with kim chi, kim (Korean roasted seaweed), other Korean side-dishes, and hot rice for a delicious, simple, healthy meal.2 inch steaks and grill or pan fry.

Josh's Tips_______________

If pressed for time, you can skim some of the fat off the top of the soup with a ladle instead of letting it cool overnight. Some people say that putting a piece of bread on top will soak up all the oil. I haven't tried this, but that sounds like a tasty piece of bread! You don't have to skim the fat off the top if it isn't too much. It really depends on how much fatis on the meat. It's ok if there are some oil bubbles on top. But if you don't see any oil bubbles, either there is zero fat, or there is a giant layer of oil on top. One thing you can do is cook beef ribs and turn the broth into kalbi tang. Do the same procedures except take the ribs out after an hour and prepare them to be baked or grilled. You'll wind up with two delicious dishes! You can also make a similar soup (slight taste difference, but it's still good) with different cuts of beef that are on sale. I would recommend 7 bone chuck roast or a chuck pot roast. Anything that either is close to the bone and has fat but is usually tough so that it is tasty and tender when boiled. Lean stringy cuts won't taste good, though the soup broth itself will be good as long as you use beef. Something that I haven't tried(probably due to the mad cow scare) but might be good would be to use a beef neck bone as it contains the gelatin that would make the soup more viscous and substantial. The actual amount of meat is variable, and it just depends on budget/ how much meat you want to eat with the broth.


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