kalbi-jjim christine han

What are your signature family dinners? Our dear friend and photographer we’ve loved working with for years, Christine Han, swears by Korean beef short rib stew. “Kalbi jjim is a special occasion dish, not because it’s difficult to make (it’s easy!), but because meat was a huge luxury back in the day,” she says. “My mom makes this twice a year: when I come home for a visit and at Christmas.” Here’s how to make it…

kalbi-jjim christine han

Kalbi Jjim

“Here’s the thing: many Korean-American families don’t like turkey (it’s not uncommon to HATE turkey, TBH) or other traditional American holiday dishes. You’ll often find a spread of traditional Korean dishes at a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner! This is how my mom makes it (everyone does it a little differently). I added my own touch by using Deuki Hong‘s sauce recipe because it’s delicious and uses fruit to sweeten rather than sugar,” explains Christine.

You’ll need:

For the stew:
4 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, with a good meat-to-bone ratio
2 carrots, large diced
2 potatoes, large diced
1 small daikon radish, large diced
1 medium onion, quartered

For the sauce (adapted from Koreatown):
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
1 tablespoon black pepper
8 cloves garlic
1 apple
1 Asian pear

Soak the short ribs in cold water for 30 minutes, rinsing a few times. Peel, core and chop into dice the apple and Asian pear. Blend the sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender, until smooth. Set aside.

Bring water to a rolling boil in a dutch oven or big pot. Boil the short ribs for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside 1-1/2 cups of the water the ribs have been boiling in and discard the rest.

Rinse the pot. Add the short ribs. Pour the sauce over everything, plus the 1-1/2 cups of saved water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, covered, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Skim the foam that rises to the top and stir occasionally. Add the vegetables and continue to simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 45 minutes or so.

Garnish with chopped scallion if you’d like, and serve with steamed white rice. If desired, you can make this the day before you plan to serve it and cool the whole pot so that it’s easy to remove the excess fat for a lighter, cleaner stew.

Serves six.

kalbi-jjim christine han

Thank you so much for sharing, Christine! We love you.

P.S. More recipes, including the best brussels sprouts and shrimp and ginger stir fry.

(Photos and styling by Christine Han for Cup of Jo. Thanks to Franny Eremin for helping with this series.)