This is actually my second attempt at this popular Korean dish. The first time I made this I was so hungry that I ended up eating the whole thing before I realized I didn’t take any pictures. So let this be a lesson, if you’re cooking something you want to blog about, don’t do it with an empty stomach!
Tteok Galbi is one of those dishes that is super tedious to make. At least the traditional way is. The more common method is to mix pork, beef, and seasonings together then shape them into patties to be grilled over charcoal. The reason pork and beef are mixed is that beef alone is too dry, so pork is added to make it more fatty.
The traditional way of making this dish is actually very cool and unique. The word “Galbi” means ribs in Korean, because the dish was originally only made with beef short ribs. “Tteok” means rice cake but this isn’t because they use rice to make it. It is given this name because you have to cut it, marinate it, and shape it similar to when you’re making Korean rice cake. The unique thing about this dish is that the final product is still intact with the bone of the spareribs. The idea is that by cutting it and marinating it, the results is very tender meat that can be easily taken off the bone to be eaten.
The process starts of by getting a bunch of large spareribs from your butcher. You will then start but cutting the meat to the bone in a grid pattern. Do this until the meat is almost falling off the bone. You then marinate it by rubbing the ingredients inside all the cracks and crevices. This provides amazing flavour and texture. After a couple of hours, you take grill it over a slow charcoal grill and serve with a bunch of side dishes.
The way to eat this dish (so I’ve been told) is by using your chopsticks and taking the meat off the bone and placing it onto a large piece of lettuce. You then add some spicy Korean paste onto it, wrap it up and enjoy. This reminds me a lot of the Chinese lettuce wraps, but this way has a nice smokey taste along with more meat.
As mentioned before, this dish is very popular. Which means there are a lot of restaurants serving it, leading to many different methods in making this dish. There are some who scrape the meat off the bone, ground it, and then stick it back on the bone before marinating and grilling. Another method is the ground beef and pork patter. My method was to grab a cut of beef that had a good amount of fat in it, and grind it myself at home, then marinate it, and grilled. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any large spareribs so I couldn’t try traditional method, as it would probably be tastier with the flavour coming from the bone. I’ll try looking for the cut of meat the next time I’m at a Korean market.
If you want to try making this recipe yourself, you can check Maangchi who does a way better job explaining this dish. I might make a video on my take of this recipe in the future, so please check back if you’re interested!