Sourcing the Appropriate Cut for Kalbi

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Author: tess
Date: 4-12-10
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You want to cook Kalbi (galbi) – and here I’m talking about beef galbi – but you can’t seem to find the appropriate cut of meat. The good news is it should be relatively easy to source, even if you don’t have a Korean grocery store near you. The key is just figuring out what it is that you are asking for.

What?
Korean style short ribs

Animal?
Beef

Cut?
Short Rib. You you might also see this called "beef chuck short rib"

Two Subcuts to Choose From...

  • Flanken-Style Ribs (this type of Kalbi is known as "LA Kalbi"): This is also called “Beef Chuck Flanken-Style Ribs” “Cross Cut Short Ribs” or “Flanken Cut” or “Beef Chuck Short Rib – Thin Cut” also known as “LA Kalbi”. I really don’t know the origin of the term LA Kalbi, but it sounds like it might have … oh, I don’t know, originated in LA. I’ve read variously that this style of cut is not served in Korea. I personally have not encountered it in Korea, but it’s also been a stretch since my last visit. In New York, I typically only see kalbi in the Tong kalbi style. Incidentally, my umma called this Flankenstein cut (so cute)!
  • English Cut (this type of Kalbi is known as “Tong Kalbi”): Now, the cut that you are probably familiar with from restaurants is a slightly different cut, where the meat is thinned out and wrapped around a singular bone. This style of kalbi is called Tong Kalbi, which means Round kalbi. The cut for this is called by a slew of names as well, ranging from “Beef Chuck Short Rib – Thick Cut” to “English Cut.”

Incidentally, the marinating process for this type of kalbi is almost the same (perhaps a bit longer), and generally Tong Kalbi is a bit harder to make as it requires a bit of finesse: you have to take the cut and thinly spread the meat out into a long strip.

Where
Easiest bet is a Korean grocery store. After that, I’d try your closest Asian supermarket – they sometimes stock as "Korean short rib." I’ve also heard that some Mexican supermarkets stock this cut. As for mainstream stores, if you’ve got a Whole Foods or Costco near you, they typically stock it.

Otherwise, it’s as simple as asking. Ask the butcher in the grocery store you go to or better yet a local standalone butcher for the cuts – typically they don’t have them pre-cut and out, but they’re happy to fill special orders. We’ve found this is the case in the not particularly Korean neighborhood where my parents live.

Happy Galbi Hunting!

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