Kalbi Beef Salad

kalbi salad-0457

One disadvantage of being the only female in the house is that it’s quite difficult to campaign for main dish salads as dinner fare. It’s not that it’s impossible, because I’ve done it before. But there’s always the chance that the salad just wasn’t filling enough, and then they end up having cheese-and-hot-sauce sandwiches for dessert. (It’s happened.)

But Tom just re-built our grill, and was excited to use it. So I figured this was my chance to plan a main dish salad with something grilled. In my mind, I imagined a nice Asian salmon salad, and figured I could serve it with some sushi rice on the side to help boost the full-ness factor.

Then I walked into Costco and saw packages of gorgeous slabs of beef short ribs, minus the bone. And of course, I instantly thought of kalbi. I am, after all, the daughter of a former Philippine military attache assigned to South Korea. One look at how Tom gazed longingly at the beautifully marbled beef, and I decided to ditch the salmon plans and concoct a kalbi beef salad instead.

kalbi salad-0393

Kalbi beef is ridiculously easy to make. I made it for a family dinner in the Philippines during my last visit, unfazed by the prospect of having to make 25 pounds of it. All I’ll say is that I never saw meat disappear that quickly. The few latecomers never had a chance.

My plan was to make kalbi on the grill two ways: thinly sliced on a skewer and left whole. We also marinated some baby bella mushrooms with the same kalbi marinade, and grilled those as well. The dressing? My favorite Asian-style dressing, which is simply fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, sweet Thai chili sauce, and some water. I’ll sometimes add a touch of salad oil to it, but really, you can use it without the oil, which makes it a tad healthier than regular vinaigrettes. Sometimes I’ll throw in a bit of grated carrots and a touch of garlic and/or hot pepper for some bite.

kalbi salad-0429

When Tom was done grilling, we plated the salad while letting the meat rest. Spring greens on the bottom, then julienned vegetables that were tossed in the dressing along with chopped cilantro. Kalbi beef and mushrooms on top, a handful of salted roasted peanuts and fried onions for some crunch, and I added a few slivers of jackfruit for some sweetness. (You can use mangoes instead of jackfruit.)

kalbi salad-0459 600px

How good was this salad? All I’ll say is that we had it three dinners in a row. We had the skewered version the first night, and the sliced-from-whole version the following nights. I much preferred the sliced-from-whole version. I love how flavorful the fish sauce dressing is, which means you also don’t need much of it on the salad. Tim didn’t care much for the Asian dressing, so he used a simple balsamic drizzle. You can certainly use your favorite dressing for this.


Kalbi Beef Salad
Serves 4 to 6

For the Asian-style dressing:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons finely grated carrots (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons salad oil or light olive oil (optional)
just a little bit of finely grated garlic, to taste (optional)
minced hot pepper, to taste (optional)

For the marinade (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated):
1 pear, peeled and diced (it’s going into the blender, so no need to be precise)
8 cloves garlic
1 knob ginger (about 3/4″ in length), sliced into coins so you don’t get long fibers
1 whole Thai bird pepper (optional, only if you like it spicy)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup scallions (optional, substitute 2 teaspoons onion powder or 1/2 medium regular onion)
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

For the salad:
3 pieces beef short rib meat, boneless (around 2 pounds)
10 ounces baby bella mushrooms, washed and cleaned (optional)
3 small bell pepper, preferably different colors, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 small cucumber, sliced into thin coins
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salad greens
1/2 cup canned jackfruit, drained and julienned (or fresh ripe mangoes)
roasted salted peanuts
fried onions (optional)
Korean hot bean paste (optional)

Mix all the dressing ingredients together. Add water to taste, and set aside.

Blend the marinade ingredients together until smooth. Marinate the beef for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. If using mushrooms, marinate mushrooms as well 1 hour before grilling.

Mix the julienned and sliced vegetables together in a bowl. Dress lightly with some of the dressing and the chopped cilantro. Set aside.

Grill the beef and mushrooms to desired doneness. Plate the salads while letting the meat rest. Put a generous amount of salad greens in each plate. Top with the dressed vegetables. Garnish with jackfruit, peanuts, and fried onions. Top with beef and mushrooms. You can add a small amount of hot bean paste on top if desired.

kalbi salad-0468

The great thing about this salad is that you can skip the salad greens and serve this with the dressed vegetables on a bed of rice instead. The meat is absolutely tender and packed with flavor. If you want to make this completely vegetarian, skip the beef and double up on the mushrooms. The kalbi marinade really makes the mushrooms taste even meatier. (Oh, and if you’re making this vegetarian, don’t forget to skip the fish sauce and use salt or soy sauce instead.)

Ah. Kalbi. It’s one of the reasons I will be forever grateful that my dad’s final assignment was in Korea, and that I was old enough to truly appreciate the introduction to such a wonderful world cuisine.


11 Responses to Kalbi Beef Salad
  1. Maria
    May 19, 2010 | 1:00 pm

    Great salad for summer!

  2. Tracy
    May 19, 2010 | 1:03 pm

    I love to (get my husband to) grill! ;-) This is a great summer meal!

  3. Jen @ How To: Simplify
    May 19, 2010 | 1:10 pm

    This dish looks so fresh and tasty! I would love to have this for dinner tonight!

  4. Jenny Flake
    May 19, 2010 | 6:29 pm

    Wow!! Beautiful salad!!

  5. Maggy@ThreeManyCooks
    May 19, 2010 | 11:03 pm

    I want this in my belly now! This salad looks so delicious :) And what a gorgeous photo! Fantastic colors.

  6. Cookin' Canuck
    May 19, 2010 | 11:36 pm

    I’m very impressed by the balance of flavors in this recipe. Sweet, spicy, and tart flavors are represented in every part of this dish. Very nice!

  7. Molly's Mom
    May 22, 2010 | 12:09 pm

    Looks wonderful! I am also a kalbi addict having grown up in Hawaii. One question–is there supposed to be shoyu in the kalbi marinade? I’ve never seen a recipe without it, so curious about that.

    • ivoryhut
      May 22, 2010 | 12:32 pm

      Uhm … yes, I apparently forgot to include the soy sauce. Thanks for catching that! I just corrected it and added the 1/2 cup soy sauce.
      And now, I shall go to a corner and bury my head in shame.

      • Molly's Mom
        May 22, 2010 | 12:37 pm

        Don’t do that silly! This recipe sounds amazing and I shall go immediately to Costco (even though it’s a Saturday and I hate to go on Saturdays) to buy short ribs and try this salad. I am new to your site, but love your writing and recipes. Quite anxious to try many of your recipes (after I try this one!) Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  8. Megan
    May 22, 2010 | 4:16 pm

    That looks really good! Love the photos.

  9. polwig
    May 23, 2010 | 2:39 pm

    This looks amazing, I need to clean my grill and try it soon.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://ivoryhut.com/2010/05/kalbi-beef-salad/trackback/
about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

facebook pageflickrtwittertasty ktichenrss feedcontact me
The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo is the Filipino dish most people are familiar with. Here's my quick and easy version that requires minimal prep work and only one pan. Perfect for busy weeknights.

The Ivory Hut: Homemade Nutella Baking Chips

Yes, I made my own chocolate chips. Nutella chocolate chips, to be exact. Then I made cookies. Lots of cookies.

Subscribe by email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.