Michelle Palmer: Hawaiian-style kalbi ribs (recipe)

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Paniolo barbecue. One of the first things I have to have when I go home is Hawaiian-style kalbi ribs! (Grilled Korean beef short ribs) They cook fast and are so ONO! My birth certificate says, “Territory of Hawaii.” Hawaii became a state in 1959 way after my birth.

There is nothing like the smell of the ocean with the crashing sounds of the waves and the sound of the wind blowing through the palm fronds. So put on a little brother Iz, light up the barbecue and drink the classic Hawaiian Island invented Mai Tai in 1953 by mixologist Bergeron garnished with pineapple spear, mint leaves, lime, and the little umbrella in it. (AKA “top tourist tantalizer”)

Kalbi is the Korean word for "rib.” The dish may be marinated in a sweet and savory sauce usually containing soy sauce, garlic, and sugar. Both non-marinated and marinated Kalbi are often featured in Korean barbecue. Kalbi ribs are a local island favorite in Hawaii.

Originating somewhere between 37 B.C. to 668 A.D. originally called “maekjeok” meaning “meat over fire,” then it was changed to “bulgogi” then gained popularity of the Korean culture during 1990s. This blessed dish was introduced by the Koreans and has since been adopted and loved by the locals. It is the perfect summer barbecue dish to serve at family gatherings or beach get-togethers.

On the mainland it is not as common to see the thinly cut 1/4 inch thick as it is how it is done on the Islands, da kine version for the beef short ribs. They are usually thicker and not cut against bone.

I would recommend getting this meat from the butcher. Why? Simply because the pricing is inexpensive, and you are supporting a local business! Frozen is just not the same.

Rinse the beef ribs under water to get rid of any bone fragments when the butcher cut through the bones. Set aside the meat.


3 pounds beef short ribs Korean-style 1/4-inch cut

1 cup water

1 cup Shoyu soy sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup mirin or brandy

1/4 cup rice wine

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 inch ginger grated

8-9 cloves of garlic grated


In a large bowl mix together the water, shoyu, brown sugar, mirin/brandy, rice wine, sesame oil, black pepper, ginger, sliced green onions, and grated garlic. To save on time you can also put all of these ingredients in a blender.

Put the marinade in a glass dish with a lid. Make sure the meat is covered in the marinade. Cover or seal and let it marinade in the fridge overnight at least.

Get your grill heated real nice (I like to use applewood) and start grilling the meat. Grill each side of the meat for about 3-4 minutes or until it has a nice sear (light char) on each side. Garnish it with more green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy this Ono barbecue!

Michelle Palmer is owner of Absolutely Michelle’s chef-for-hire.


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