Korean Beef Stew (Galbi Jim)

 

Before all things Korean became fashionable in the Philippines, I used to eat Korean beef stew and kimchi regularly at the old Kimchi restaurant in Harrison Plaza, Manila. The dark little restaurant, with its greasy tables, two burner kitchen and surly waiters had a clientele of chain-smoking Korean and Japanese nationals, drowning their spicy food with beer.

No matter; I was a student then, and the inexpensive food was consistently good and always served hot. If I had money in my pocket, it would be the house specialty of beef stew. If I was running low, kimchi and rice. I never had enough meat in the stew though, and I would make the meal last by spooning the yummy sauce over the rice and alternating between that and spoonfuls of tender meat and naked (!) rice.

It is almost unbearable to see a whole pot of stew in our kitchen!

The original recipe here is (surprise!) from Grace Lee, erstwhile romantically  linked to the Philippine President. I made the dish twice, and this version contains my modifications. As long as you do not hurry the stewing of the meat, the recipe is fool-proof. Serve with hot, white rice and a side dish of kimchi or sautéed bean sprouts (toge).

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg beef ribs (For our family, this works out to be 12 servings. Its pretty heavy). 
  • 1 T sesame seeds (for topping)
  • 1 stalk of leeks
  • 3 T sesame oil
  • scallions (for topping)

Marinade

  • 1/2T Ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 Onion, large
  • 70g Garlic chopped
  • 120ml Good Soy Sauce (The final dish will carry the taste of the soy sauce so reserve the cheap stuff for the daily adobo). 
  • 50 ml Chungju (Korean cooking wine)
  • 3T Mul-yeut (Korean cooking syrup) or sugar or honey
  • 150ml Me-shil Chung (sweet cooking wine)
  • 400ml Pear juice  (Usually one 2-3 large pieces, cooked in 100ml water) (I used leftover apple juice from the fridge. No big deal.)
Optional Items (Did not use any of these but the dish was still perfect. I suppose if you want to make it a one dish meal you can add veggies). 
  • 1/2 radish (medium)
  • 1 carrot (medium)
  • 12 pcs chestnut
  • 20 pcs ginko
  • 15 pcs dates
  • Place the ribs in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Leave submerged for 4-5 hours.  You can change the water a couple of times during this duration. This process makes the broth really clear and free from little icky particles.
  • If using, chop the vegetables into roughly the same size.
  • Roughly chop the leeks.
  • After 4-5 hours, place the ribs in a large stockpot and fill with enough water to cover. Once the ribs start boiling, drain the ribs over a colander and wash with cold water. Discard cooking liquid. At this stage you may remove undesired veins and fat.
  • Replace the ribs in a pot with onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, pepper, wine, sweetener and fruit juice.
  • Bring to a boil,  then simmer until fork tender. This process may take four hours but better to err on the side of falling-off-the-bone vs. tough-as-nails.
  • You may have to add water in the middle of the process to ensure that the meat is always submerged in liquid.
  • If using vegetables, throw in the radish and carrot midway into cooking, then the dates, nuts and others once the dish is almost done.
  • Top with sesame oil, leeks and sesame seeds before serving.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Use a heavy bottomed stockpot for this dish so the heat is evenly distributed.
  • The results will be different when cooked over a pressure cooker vs. the slow and sure method. The pressure cooker method makes for a less tender, blander meat chunks.
  • Do not be tempted to add more soy sauce as the sauce is already well-balanced once reduced to 70%.

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