In Honor of the Best SIL in the World: Braised Beef Short Ribs Recipe (Kalbi Jeem)

Today is my sister-in-law’s (SIL) birthday. She’s a fantastic mother of three, an outstanding cook, and also the fastest dishwasher I know. It takes about 3-4 people to keep pace with her when it comes to drying and putting away dishes. So, when I’m doing the holiday cooking, she’s the best person to have by my side.

I hear horror stories about how a lot of SILs in Korea literally compete for the title of Ultimate Evil Jr. Mother-in-Law—they feel entitled to dish out all the unpleasant tasks possible, while making you feel lower than a snake’s bellybutton.

In my case, my SIL is my ally. For the moments when I show lack of noon-chi (foresight), she would make excuses on my behalf—often pointing out that I was raised in the States most of my life and can’t help not knowing all the Korean customs, nuances, etc. She also makes excuses for us to be girly—go shopping, get hair done, facials, manicures/pedicures, etc. And, she’s introduced me to some of the best Korean dramas, which has actually helped me improve my Korean and understanding of the culture. I’m really lucky to have her as part of my family.

One of her fall/winter specialties is a Korean meat dish called kalbi jeem, which is braised beef short ribs with root vegetables. To make it right, it takes about 2 days (1 day for marinading), but with a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, you can definitely make it in one. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s guidelines if you’re using one of the cookers.

Here’s the recipe. Be sure to serve with steamed rice.

Kalbi Jeem (Korean Braised Beef Short Ribs)
Beef short ribs (about 4 lbs)
Yellow onion (3)
½ cup chopped green onion
Carrot (3)
Russet potatoes (2)
Asian pear (2)
Korean white radish (1)
Low-sodium soy sauce (2 cups)
Brown sugar (1 cup)
Fresh ginger (size of adult thumb)
Garlic (1 bulb)
Sesame Oil (2 T)
3 cups Water

Optional ingredients:
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup dried jujubes (dates)
15 roasted chestnuts

Have butcher cut ribs into pieces 2 1/3” long. Wash and score them diagonally at 1/3” intervals. Trim out fat as best as possible. Soak in cold water for at least 2 hours to draw out blood. Change water as necessary.

Make marinade.
Using food processor, puree onion, pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil. Add more soy sauce or brown sugar according to taste. Please take into consideration the water that will be added during cooking and the water from the vegetables as they are being cooked.

Remove meat from water and have it rest in marinade overnight (ideally). (Recommendation: marinating in big Ziploc bags makes clean-up easier).

Next day:
Peel and chop root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, radish) to size of chestnuts.

In a large pot, combine beef and marinade with 3 cups of water. Add radish and optional ingredients at this point. Bring to boil. Be sure to skim off fat and foam that comes to the top. Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring every now and then to make sure nothing settles too long on the bottom.

Add potatoes and carrots. Cook to desired texture (about 30 minutes to 1 hour). Add little more soy sauce and/or sugar if needed.

Total cooking time 2-3 hours (or longer, if you like the meat to be softer).

Note: You may choose to leave in a cool place for a few hours or overnight to remove more fat. Reheat and serve.

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