Kalbi – No Meat Like it

I went through most of my life hating meat and spicy food. The meat was because I disliked the chewiness and the spicy food was because I lacked a tolerance. It’s only when I went to South Korea to teach that I learned to appreciate meat and gained a tolerance for spice (where have you been all my life?). Though this one isn’t spicy, one dish I came across was Kalbi (also spelled as Galbi).

Kalbi is a dish consisting of beef or pork short ribs marinated in a well balanced marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, sugar and pear juice. It is cooked on a grill which gives it those beautiful charred lines and Smokey flavour. Although I usually just find it served on its own here in North America or with a simple bowl of rice, in Korea they served it with lettuce leaves. This is because they would load the leaf with meat, rice, pieces from banchan dishes and sauce, wrap it into a bite-sized package and eat it like a mini wrap. Kalbi is sweet, savoury and fresh with the simple addition of a lettuce leaf! Plus the thinly cut meat is usually soft and tender so it’s easy to slice the meat off the bone.

As good as kalbi is, the more popular lettuce wrap meat in Korea is pork belly. Koreans LOVE their pork belly (also known as samgypsal). You can kind of say it’s their version of bacon. However, I personally like the aromatic and tasty flavours of kalbi. 🙂


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