Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Galbi Jjim

In the grand tradition of pretending like I know anything about other countries, I have selected "Korean" as a flavor palate for Saturday's game night fare.

[On a side note, game night= what happens to you when you are a couple. You end up seeking other couples to do activities that involve staying in. An ethnic cooking challenge and elaborate beer tasting menu become your only consolation that you might still be somewhat young/hip or adventurous.]

Galbi Jjim is Korean for tender beef short ribs with a delectable glaze of East Asian flavors.
You see, the Koreans have developed this exotic and mysterious food ritual where they smoke ribs on the grill using a tangy thick brown sauce mainly composed of sugar, onions, salt, and spices.

Image from Grit
It's really weird.

Being a formerly-lifelong vegetarian, my venture into something as ubiquitous as good ol' BBQ is, by necessity, just as anthropological as it is culinary.

Image from Travellious

Sometimes I feel like an outsider even in my own country.

"You've NEVER had barbecue ribs?!"
a girl from Austin, Texas asked me incredulously. About eight months after I had, at the age of 19, literally taken my first bite of chicken ever.

"No, I've never had barbecue. I don't even really know what that is."
My parents were Yankees.
In addition to being raised on Taco Bell Gordita Supremes with beans instead of the meat (you can just imagine the hundreds of confused cashiers), what exposure would I have had to ribs on our northbound drives to visit family?

"What about when you GO to a barbecue?"
I guess barbecuing in Texas is about as popular as, well, barbecuing in Kentucky. Except not at my house.

"At cookouts we always ate Smart Dogs®."

I guess if you have any frame of reference for imitation meat, or even just click on the link for Smart Dogs®, you'll know just how hilarious and preposterous that is.

Being as accidentally mis-cultured as I am, I am somehow more comfortable trying a recipe from the other side of the earth than I would be venturing into the sacred folklore of what is, for the vast majority of folks, a down-home American tradition.

Saying that I'm eating Galbji Jjim or Bulgogi makes me feel as if my totally dense and meaty dinner plate is somehow more sophisticated. I got the ingredient list from NPR, for Buddha's sake.

Fine. It's well established that I am all backwards in life. Let's skip down to the pictures.



Daikon is really, really fun.
With honey and chili paste.


Stewing in the pan with the chili daikon and marinade, then later sprinkled with baby bok choy and chopped leeks
Note: I did not fire up the grill. These ribs were actually braised in the oven for about 3 hours on low heat. The first time I made them I used the crock pot, which is still the fan favorite.
[the photos are blurry because i was eating it so fast!]

Half of the daikon I cubed and braised with the beef and marinade, and the other half I grated into my citrus carrot salad.

Carrot salad
About 3 carrots, 1/2 of a large daikon radish, and a bit of purple cabbage and white onion grated finely, stirred together and seasoned with chopped cilantro, rice vinegar, white sugar, sesame oil and key lime juice.

Tomorrow, maybe we'll tackle this totally enigmatic phenomenon known as "barbecued ribs and cole slaw." Naaawww, I may not be ready for that.

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