Galbi of Kalbi
The Famous Korean Ribs

Raw galbi on plate

Galbi, or Kalbi if you would prefer, is not a single food, but rather a variety of grilled dishes in South Korea culture that I find to be quite delicious. It is typically created from marinated beef or even pork short ribs. The word Galbi literally means ‘rib’ in Korean, as this refers to the meat that is used to make Kalbi.

The following are a few of the ingredients that could be used: soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine, and garlic. The question that many people tend to ask is where this recipe for beef ribs actually originated. Believe it or not, there was a time when the killing of cattle was strictly prohibited, but King Jeongjo needed workers to build Hwa Castle, a strategically important structure. That being the case, he would permit one slaughterhouse to process beef; however, as you can imagine, it simply didn't stop there. This occurred in the late 1700s and many years later, a customer at a restaurant suggested that rather than simply putting beef ribs in the soup, they should roast them. The rest is quite literally history.

Galbi on Korean Barbecue

Galbi, depending on the variant, is usually roasted or cooked on a Korean Barbecue and served with lettuce, perilla, or other leafy vegetables. These vegetables are used to wrap the meat, and the entire meal is dipped in ssamjang. Something interesting to note is that many people in Korea actually own miniature grills (see my Korean Barbecue page) dedicated to cooking Galbi, Bulgogi and pork belly and these are extremely useful on picnics.

Once Kalbi was created in its original form, Koreans were completely mesmerized by its taste. In those days, the recipes were quite limited, but due to the level of recipes and preparation methods available today, the taste will ultimately depend on how you choose to have it prepared. One thing you can count on is the fact that it will always have that great rib taste whether you choose Suwon Galbi, Wang Kalbi or one of the many other variants.

Galbi on Plate

Galbi is a relatively lean dish, meaning it is not fattening to anyone who tries it. Korean dishes are usually quite healthy, but there is some concern about Galbi containing 67% fat. In addition, it contains about 18% carbohydrates and 15% protein. However there is only about 163 calories in the standard serving of Galbi, which makes it one of the more fattening Korean dishes, However Koreans enjoy Kalbi a few times a month’s often at special occasions and it is a very good source of protein.

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