Two Kooks » COOKING METHODS » Sous Vide Recipes » Korean Beef Short Ribs (sous vide)

Korean Beef Short Ribs (sous vide)

You will knock it out of the park with these mouthwatering sous vide Korean beef short ribs (also called Kalbi). Tender meat infused with complex, sweet, salty, garlicky, savory flavors. No sous vide equipment? No worries – you have options.

As we said in our BBQ sous vide short ribs recipe If there was ever a reason to use the sous vide cooking methodshort ribs is it.

sliced Korean short ribs sous vide on cutting board

This tough cut of meat can be cooked to melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and still maintain a medium rare temperature that is simply not possible in the oven. 

You can also achieve a medium rare on the grill, but definitely not the same tenderness. (Still pretty delicious, though, and you can use a more tender cut of meat instead).

Bottom line: These beef short ribs are very easy to make and one of my favorite Korean recipes. If you like Korean food and you’re looking for an amazing recipe to wow your guests, this is it. 

A quick 101 on terms

Kalbi – also called Galbi – is the Korean term for short ribs. Kalbi sauce is the marinade used with the short ribs. Bulgogi uses the same type of marinade, but with a tender cut of meat like rib-eye steak instead.

The two basic ingredients in Korean-style short ribs are the meat and the marinade. As always, there are variations you can use to tailor it to your taste or what you have on hand.

Which short ribs to buy

I use boneless beef ribs that are about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick from Costco. For this recipe, I slice them horizontally to make them 1/2 inch thick. 

More typically, Kalbi short ribs are a bone-in strip of beef cut across the bone from the chuck end of the short ribs. Also called flanken cut or LA galbi. They are 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) thick and about 8-10 inches long. Use these if you prefer. You can find them at an Asian market or sometimes at a local grocery store including Costco. 

Because short ribs are a tough cut of meat, they usually require a braising cook method. Not this time. The sous vide method is an alternative you will love. 

Short ribs are also flavorful and rich due to their extensive marbling. Yes, fat means flavor but, don’t worry, you won’t be eating through chunks of fat. In fact, I doubt you will notice any at all.

Kalbi marinade – it’s fantastic

I use a flavorful marinade recipe with a few tweaks from Food Network by Judiaann Woo. After much research and many tests (no complaints from my family), I found several good substitutions and variations described below.

Key sauce ingredients are soy sauce, brown sugar, Asian pear (or a regular pear), green onions, garlic, mirin and sesame oil. 

The Kalbi marinade makes the dish. It takes the short ribs to the next leve. In combination with the sous vide cook, this Korean beef short ribs recipe is totally worth the time it takes to make. The effort is minimal. 

What to serve with Korean ribs

Commonly, Korean short ribs are served with white rice. They are also great over mashed potatoes, cauliflower ‘rice’ stir fry (a lighter option) or in lettuce wraps. A vinegar based slaw, Thai mango salad or easy roasted bok choy and broccoli would be good sides dish choices too.

No sous vide equipment?

If you don’t have sous vide equipment and still want to make Korean style short ribs, you have two options: 

sliced grilled short ribs on cutting board
  1. Skip the sous vide and just grill the short ribs after marinating, or
  2. Use a more tender cut of beef like rib eye, flank steak or sirloin – and grill after marinating.

How to make sous vide Korean beef short ribs

boneless beef short ribs 6 pieces on a paper towl
If your boneless short ribs are thick, slice horizontally to get a thin strip of meat. Make pieces 1/2″ (1.3 cm) thick.
short ribs after sous vide on paper towel
Sous vide the short ribs for 24 hours at 135F/57C. Remove and pat dry with paper towel. Ugly at this stage, but wait…
short ribs brushed with marinade before final grilling
Heat gas grill or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Brush glaze onto sous vide short ribs before grilling.
glazed grilled sous vide short ribs on cutting board with parsely
Grill short ribs on one side for 1-2 minutes until slightly charred.
sliced sous vide Korean beef short ribs on cutting board p

Tailor To Your Taste

Here are a few substitutions and variations you can try.

  • Meat: I use boneless 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) thick beef short ribs in a long strip, but you can also use thin short ribs with the bone (flanken). Ribeye, sirloin, chicken breasts, pork tenderloin or pork chops would also be great with the marinade and grill method.
  • Tangy kalbi-style marinade: Instead of a pear, use a grated apple or kiwi. You can also substitute the water with pineapple juice but be careful with pineapple. It’s highly acidic and can turn the meat to mush if marinated too long.
  • If you don’t have a grill or sous vide equipment, you will find cooking alternatives in the recipe.

Shortcuts

Make this Korean beef short ribs recipe as written to get knock-it-out-of-the-park results, but any of these shortcuts will still be delicious.

  1. Marinate the short ribs for 4-6 hours (instead of 24-30 hours)
  2. Skip the sous vide and just grill the short ribs on a hot grill after marinating. For this shortcut, you should definitely marinate at least 24 hours and 48 hours if possible.
  3. Reduce the time for sous vide from 24 hours to 6 hours.
  4. Skip making the glaze/sauce (I don’t suggest this, though, because it adds great depth)

Make Ahead

  • You have some flexibility on timing with this recipe.
    • Marinating time can range from 6 hours to 2-3 days. Minimum 24 hours is best.
    • Sous vide time for this recipe is 24 hours. I’ve tried the short ribs for only 5 hours and the meat was a lot more tender than no sous vide, but less tender than 24 hours. This tells me that anywhere from 12-24 hours will be good too. 
  • Needless to say, the entire recipe can be made ahead except for the final step of grilling (or broiling) for 2 minutes just before serving.

Love beef ribs?

Then try these bone-in sous vide beef back ribs. Mouthwatering!

sliced Korean short ribs sous vide on cutting board
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Korean Beef Short Ribs (Sous Vide)

You will knock it out of the park with these mouthwatering sous vide Korean beef short ribs (also called Kalbi). Tender meat infused with complex sweet, salty, garlicky, savory flavors. No sous vide equipment? No worries – you have options.
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time1 d 2 mins
Marinating1 d
Total Time2 d 10 mins
Course: main
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 6 (or 5 big eaters)
Author: Cheryl

Equipment

  • Sous vide equipment and grill (or see other options in notes)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds (1.36 kg) boneless beef short ribs, Note 1 I get them at Costco
  • Garnish (optional) – chopped green onion, parsley and/or toasted nutty sesame seeds.

Kalbi Marinade (see Note 2 for substitutes)

  • 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) cold water
  • 2 tablespoon (30 ml) mirin or rice wine
  • 1/4 cup (13g) chopped onion, about 1/2 small onion grate it if not using blender/processor
  • 1/2 Asian pear (or regular pear), peeled, cubed
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon (8.9g) dark sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 green onion, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • MAKE MARINADE: Use a food processor, immersion blender or nothing. Place all ingredients in a food processor (or bowl). Process (or blend with immersion blender) until smooth. If you don't have a processor or blender, grate the pear and onion, then mix with the remaining ingredients.
  • MARINATE SHORT RIBS: Pour marinade into large zipper lock bag along with boneless beef short ribs. Ribs should be in a single layer. Use 2 bags if needed. Remove air and seal bag. Squish meat around to ensure meat is well covered with marinade. Place in fridge for 24 -48 hours (or 6 hours if taking a shortcut).
  • SOUS VIDE SHORT RIBS (see Note 3 for non-sous vide option). Heat water with sous vide equipment to 135F/57C. Lower bag of short ribs into water. Bag should float under water. If it doesn't, unseal bag, lower it until top of bag is just above water line, then reseal it once all air is pressed out by water. If using a circulator sous vide, cover pot with lid or towel to reduce evaporation.
    Sous vide ribs for 12-30 hours. I find 24 hours perfect or, if ribs are very thin, 12 hours. (For a shortcut, sous vide for 6 hours – but not as tender). Remove shorts rib from bag. Pat dry with paper towel.
  • MAKE GLAZE/SAUCE (optional but recommended): Pour marinade juices into small pot (I like to pour it through a sieve to remove small bits but it's fine if you don't). Bring to boil, then reduce to medium high. Boil for about 10 minutes until reduce by half and slightly thickened. If you like heat on your rib meat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • GRILL KOREAN SHORT RIBS: Spray grill with oil and heat to medium high (450-500F). Brush glaze on both sides of short ribs. Spray ribs with oil on one side to avoid sticking. Grill for 2 minutes on one side that is sprayed with oil. No need to grill the other side. Brush on extra glaze and serve with remaining sauce on the side. Garnish with chopped green onions and/or sesame seeds if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Short ribs options:  I use boneless 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) thick beef short ribs (slice them horizontally in half if they are 1 inch thick). You can also use thin short ribs with the bone (flanken). Ribeye, sirloin, chicken breasts, pork tenderloin or pork chops would also be great with the marinade and grill method.
  2. Substitutes in Marinade :
    • Instead of pear – use apple, kiwi or pineapple.
    • Instead of water – use pineapple juice or (half pineapple, half water). Don’t over marinate with pineapple juice as they ribs can get mushy.
    • Instead of mirin or rice vinegar –  use white vinegar
    • Instead of dark sesame oil – use light 
    • Instead of onion – use green onion
  3. If you don’t have sous vide equipment: I suggest marinating for at least 24 hours. Spray grill with oil and heat to medium high (about 450-500F). Remove ribs from marinating bag. Reserve marinade to make glaze/sauce as per instructions above if desired. Pat meat to dry with paper towel, brush on glaze if using, spray with oil. Grill ribs for 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare. Instant thermometer will read 130F/54C. Let rest 5 minutes. 
  4. If you don’t have a grill:
    • After sous vide cooking, broil ribs for 2 minutes close to the heat on one side. Brush with glaze first. 
    • If you don’t have sous vide equipment or a grill, bake short ribs at 375F for 20 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes close to heat to brown. 
  5. Make Ahead:
    • Timing options/shortcuts:
      • Marinating time can range from 6 hours to 2-3 days. 24 hours is best.
      • Sous vide time for this recipe is 24 hours. But I’ve tried the short ribs for only 5 hours and the meat was a lot more tender than no sous vide, but less tender than 24 hours. This tells me that anywhere from 12-24 hours will be good too. Even 30 hours should be fine.
    • Needless to say, the entire recipe can be made ahead except for the final step of grilling (or broiling) for 2 minutes just before serving.
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 518kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 1277mg | Potassium: 913mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 6mg
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38 Comments

  1. Interesting that when you cut the ribs down to 1/2 inch thickness, the cut looks to be with the grain. Is that so that when you serve the final product, the cuts look to be against the grain.

    1. Hmm. I never really thought about that! I cut the meat in half horizontally just to get a thinner strip which is more typical for Korean-style short ribs. Ideally, this would be across the grain, but less important for for this recipe since the long cooking time with sous vide breaks down the connective tissue, making the meat more tender anyway. Regardless, it’s always best to cut perpendicular to the grain with cooked meat to make it more tender, juicier and easier to chew. I hope that answered your question.

  2. 5 stars
    This marinade is actually incredible omfg! I didn’t have the pear and it was still amazing.
    I cooked it a bit differently because I had thick short ribs on the bone:
    I marinated the ribs for 8 hours then I left the marinade aside and seared the ribs in a cast iron pan. Then I did sous vide at 131 for 48 hours. When they were done I took the leftover marinade and brought it to a boil, then simmered it for a few minutes. Meanwhile I brushed some marinade on the ribs and popped them in the oven for a bit to get the tops all nice and glazed. I used the reduced marinade as the glaze/sauce to serve it with. I wish I could post a photo here, they were THE BEST short ribs I’ve ever had, let alone made myself. This recipe is a keeper 100%

  3. I’m experimenting with Sous Vide myself lately and I’m amazed by how consistent the results are, it’s literally hard to make a bad meal when using this method 🙂 I’m about to give your recipe a try the next time I turn my sous vide machine on, the marinade looks VERY promising!

    1. Hi Matej, Hope you like the short ribs if you try them! Just don’t over marinate if you’re using pineapple and sous vide for less time if your meat is thin. Let us know how they turn out!

      1. 5 stars
        I made these, but since I’m an impatient person, I’ve cut the times down a bit 🙂
        6 hours of marinating and then overnight (about 10 hours) in the water bath. The ribs I had were quite small/thin though.

        I was very happy about the result, great recipe!

        1. Thanks Matej. It’s great to hear that the lower timing (marinating and sous vide) worked well (probably best) with a thinner cut of short ribs. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks, Cheryl for the terrific recipe. I looked at many recipes primarily for the marinade and cook times and temps and picked your not only because I liked the marinade but also I liked your recipe style. I am very impressed that your take the time to include weights, substitutions, shortcuts and notes. Well done.
    Because of time constraints and the fact that I was using flanken ribs, I combined your recipe with Chef Steps. I used your marinade and marinated for 12 hours. I did not cook in the marinade but did reduce it for the glaze. I cooked them at 167 for 8 hours (favored by Chef Steps for flanken style). Then broiled them for 2 minutes with the glaze. Outstanding!! Reminded me of those we had at an upscale Korean restaurant we’ve been to.

    1. Thanks for your lovely, thoughtful note Noel. I, too, often combine 2-3 recipes, picking the ingredients and methods I think will work best. Most importantly, I’m really happy the ribs turned out so well for you. (And I’m honored to be in the company of Chef Steps!)

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe was excellent. My family and I enjoyed it very much! My kids said it was one of the best things I have ever cooked!

  6. Can I sous vide the ribs and keep them in the fridge for 1-2 days before quick grilling and serving?

    1. Absolutely! Cool them down after they finish cooking sous vide (either on the counter or plunge the bag of ribs into cold water for 10 minutes), then refrigerate for up to 4-5 days. When ready to use, you can warm them in a water bath, sous vide, at the same temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Or, if the short ribs are thin, you can probably just bring them to room temperature before grilling. Hope that helps.

  7. 5 stars
    Was going to use the beef chuck short rib prime from Costco that are a bit thicker and not going to cut them but leave them thick. Would a sous vide time of 24hrs still be good? To prevent mush beef (reading comments) does it have to do with having a lot of the marinated in the bag while in the sous vide? Or is it the marinade b/c if I can’t find ingredients to make the marinade was just going to get pre mix kalbi marinade from the store. TYIA.

    1. Hi Emma. If you’re going to leave them thick, I would sous vide them for closer to 48 hours. The time a tenderness is related to the thickness of the meet in sous vide.

      I’m not sure what’s in the kalbi marinade you will buy so it may be best to marinate for 24 hours, then bag with meat without the marinade (transfer to another bag). After the ribs are cooked you can glaze them with additional marinade when grilling. I hope that helps. Good luck!

  8. Do you sous vide right in the large ziploc bag you used to marinate the meat? Or do you split up the meat into smaller portions?

    1. Ideally the ribs should be fit in one layer in the bag (not overlapped). If not, you can separate them into two bags.

      1. And you submerge the whole bag? I usually keep the top out of the water for fear of water penetration during a long cook. No issues with this?

        1. There’s no problem submerging the whole bag as long as it’s properly sealed. I just use freezer bag ziplocs. And they work just fine. If you have vacuum sealer, even better.

        1. Hi Sharon, Yes, I sous vide the short ribs with the marinade in a single layer. If your short ribs are very thin (or you are using a tender cut of meat), don’t marinate for more than a day and you will only need to sous vide them for 8-10 hours I’d say. Hope that helps.

    1. Carol, it sounds like your short ribs were not thick enough and you sous vide them for far too long. Maybe go for a thicker cut and play around with the sous vide time. I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I have a lot of experience with sous vide.

    2. Hi Carol. So so sorry your Korean short ribs didn’t work out. Frustrating for sure. There’s couple of reasons your meat could have been mushy. 1) As Dustin mentioned in another comment, your meat was too thin. In which case, 6-9ish hours of cooking time would be plenty; 2) if you used a very tender cut of meat instead of the tougher short ribs, your cooking time will also need to be much less. 3) finally – and this happened to me once (I had to toss a whole beef tenderloin) – if you used a certain type of acid in the marinade, a long marinating time can make the meat mushy. For me, I used the juice from pineapple that been precut and put in a container. The store must have added a special preservative that turned my meat to mush 🙁

      Again, sorry the short ribs didn’t work for you. I hope you will give the recipe another chance. I’ve made it many times and it always gets rave reviews.

    3. With another recipe I too accidently made meat mush. Made a wonderful gravy. As previously commented, reduce time to reduce tenderizing.

  9. 5 stars
    Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.

    1. 5 stars
      A winner! Stumbled upon this recipe after impulse buying short ribs at the local butcher. About 25 hours Sous Vide, perfectly tender and utterly delicious. Seared in beef tallow and smothered in the the glaze. Yum. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    1. Yes, for this recipe, I sous vide with the marinade. You can reserve a third of the marinade before marinating and sous viding the short ribs if you prefer, but it’s not necessary.