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
Transfer marinated meat to a fresh ziploc (or 2). Reserve marinade to make glaze. 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. Or baked beef back ribs with maple bourbon glaze. Mouthwatering!

sliced Korean short ribs sous vide on cutting board
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4.94 from 47 votes

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 minutes
Cook Time1 day 2 minutes
Marinating1 day
Total Time2 days 10 minutes
Course: main
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 6 (or 5 big eaters)

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 hours (or 6 hours if taking a shortcut).
    Remove meat and reserve the marinade (save it in a sealed container in fridge). Dab meat a bit with a paper towel and place in a fresh ziploc in a single layer. Use 2 bags if needed.
  • 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, unsealed, until top of bag is just above water line, then seal 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 reserved marinade juices into small pot (I like to pour it through a sieve to remove small bits). Bring to boil, then reduce to medium high. Boil for about 10 minutes until reduced by half and slightly thickened. If you like spicy, 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.

Video

Recipe 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 24 hours.
      • 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. If your meat is thin (less than 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick), sous vide for a maximum of 12 hours. 
    • 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
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!
4.94 from 47 votes (38 ratings without comment)

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50 Comments

  1. I would just like to clarify that you do marinade a day & then drain marinade & sous for a day?

    Thank you
    Toni

  2. Your passion and dedication to your craft shine brightly through every article. Your positive energy is contagious, and it’s clear you genuinely care about your readers’ experience. Your blog brightens my day!

  3. The marinade is great and the recipe was so well organized, but we found the ribs to be way too fatty where to fat didn’t render at all. I googled it and found that maybe the temperature needs to be increased above 140. See https://www.reddit.com/r/sousvide/comments/2whuhd/short_ribs_48_hrs_136f_way_too_fatty_is_that/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=android_app&utm_name=androidcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=1

    1. Hi Oliver, so much of sous vide cooking is personal preference which requires experimenting. Thanks for sharing your experience for other readers to consider. You won’t get the meat as medium rare with 140F, but the fat may render more. I hope you’ll let us know if you try it.

  4. As a korean, this is fairly accurate but not a few minor additions / tweaks.

    We don’t use light soy sauce. We actually use Korean soy sauce (fermented). It’s lighter in salt but way more umami with a much different flavor than typical japanese soy. Same for Korean Mirin (higher alcohol content). We also use toasted sesame oil (sold in a giant alumninum tin at a korean grocery store) which has a much different flavor than the ones i bought in regular western stores.

    Lastly: your recipe is missing Ginger.
    Ginger is as key an ingredient to this as garlic and onion.

    Otherwise this isn’t a bad rendition…

    Also a hack I sometimes use (which pisses off my dad) is pre-soak the ribs in pepsi for a few hours prior to marinade. It’s a trick korean restaurants use if you don’t have access to AAA grade angus, or USDA Prime.

    Has to be pepsi and not coke because pepsi uses sugar whereas coke uses caramel (butter screws with the flavor).

    1. Hi Jacque. Thanks so much for the helpful tweaks and information toward making this recipe more authentic. Plus the fun hack with pepsi. It’s true that I try to use ingredients that are easily accessible to most western readers, but I, and hopefully others, appreciate hearing about the more traditional Korean ingredients and how they compare to western ingredients.