On a scale of 1 to 10, just how difficult is it to make galbi-jjim? Oooh, I’d say 5. Not hard at all. Sourcing the more traditional ingredients is harder than cooking the dish. Dried jujube (Ziziphus jujuba), or Chinese red date, was unavailable so we just skipped it. We made sure though to use all the correct the vegetables, seasonings and spices for an authentic flavor.
Dried shiitake is essential. While using fresh is more convenient as no soaking is required, rehydrated dried shiitake has a different texture and richer flavor. They stay beautifully chewy (a texture that I only started to appreciate recently) despite the long cooking time. And the soaking liquid adds so much depth to the sauce.
Shaping the radish and carrot into spheres is optional but the shape does have a significance in Lunar New Year celebration.
While there are claims that scum is not harmful to eat, here at home, we prefer our soups and stews to be scum-free. To do this, the beef is parboiled until scum has risen to the surface of the water.
Then, the parboiled beef is rinsed thoroughly and drained before it goes into a clean pot. Of course, you can always clean the pot in which the meat was parboiled and use that.
To the beef in the pot, we add spices and seasonings — ginger, garlic and pepper, soy sauce, mirin, about two cups of the mushroom soaking liquid, and sugar. The beef is simmered for 40 minutes before the rest of the ingredients are added.
To the still undercooked beef, we add carrot, radish and the shiitake caps which had been cut into quarters after soaking. The simmering continues until the beef is tender.
By the end of cooking time, the radish, carrot and shiitake have soaked up the flavors of the spices and seasonings in the sauce. All that the garlbi-jjim needs at this point is a bit of garnish.
Korean braised beef short ribs (galbi-jjim)
- Place the dried shiitake in a bowl and pour in three cups of warm water. Leave to rehydrate.
- Peel the radish and carrot, cut into rings then, using a paring knife, shape into spheres.
- Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.
- Place the beef in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
- Leave boiling, uncovered, for at least ten minutes.
- Drain the beef and rinse thoroughly under the tap.
- Clean the pan, dump in the rinsed beef, and add the ginger, garlic and pepper.
- Pour in the soy sauce, mirin, about two cups of the mushroom soaking liquid, and add the sugar.
- Bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes.
- Cut off the stems of the shiitake and discard (or reserve for another use). Cut the caps into quarters.
- Add the radish, carrot, chestnuts and shiitake to the beef. Stir.
- Continue simmering until the beef is literally falling off the bones.
- Taste the sauce, adjust the seasonings, if needed.