Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kalbi Sangchu Ssam (Kalbi Steak Wrapped with Lettuce)

I made some beef bulgogi a while ago and still wanted more delicious Korean beef in my life. I found this interesting way to consume this delicious marinated beef. Wrapped in lettuce with a bit of rice and kimchi, these are almost like tacos and very good.

Kalbi Sangchu Ssam 
(Kalbi Steak Wrapped with Lettuce) 
with Sticky Rice & Kimchi
(from here)

Kalbi marinade:
2 pounds boneless short ribs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 small Asian pear, peeled and chopped
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions, roughly chopped

To serve:
1-2 heads of red leaf lettuce, leaves torn off whole
prepared short grain rice (I used sushi rice)
hot sauce (Korean pepper sauce or sriracha is nice)


This is a really easy marinade to throw together. 

Just put everything in the food processor or blender. 

Buzz it for 1-2 minutes or until it is as liquid as a food processor can make it. 

You can add the beef to this, but in my last foray into Korean cooking, I didn't think the pulp on the beef was very "clean".

I didn't think it was bad, I just wanted to try this version. 

Strain the marinade through a fine mesh strainer. 

I did this right into a ziplock bag to save a dish. 

Push down and get all the liquid possible from the pulp.

I had more than enough for 2 pounds of meat. 

Speaking of the meat - This dish is traditionally done with bone-in short ribs. I found these boneless short ribs at the store and thought they'd be perfect to slice thin and marinate. I love short ribs but they are such a huge pain to deal with. This way I get all the flavor with none of the hassle. 

Make sure they are frozen pretty well and get your longest, sharpest knife. 

Slice thin and mow through your beef.

Sprinkle the brown sugar on the beef and give it a toss.

Something about sugar on beef is strangely appetizing.

Toss your sugared beef into the marinade and shake about to evenly distribute the flava.

Squeeze all the air out and marinate for as long as you can. I did this overnight, but if you do this in the morning, by dinner it should be good.


Mine was much "browner" by dinner the next day.

If you're making rice, do it now.

Strain the beef as best you can. Don't rinse it though.

Fire up a pan over high heat.

Cook the beef in batches so that you can get some color on it.

You pan will be pretty soiled after three batches of this meat but it is oh so worth it.

It'll let loose a ton of it's marinade. It's ok. Keep the heat on high.

Transfer to a plate for serving when you're done.

Tear off whole leaves of the red lettuce.

Get your kimchi ready.

To eat, put a dollop of rice onto a lettuce leaf, then a few slices of beef and top with kimchi. I added a generous squirt of Sriracha to mine. 

This was an outstanding dish. Little handfuls of food that are perfectly balanced. I loved the beef. It was fantastic. Sweet and beefy. It went so well with the bite of the kimchi and for real, the rice was a huge player in this. It tied everything together in both flavor and texture. Don't skip it.

Overall it was fantastic and I recommend making this immediately.


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