Right when I think I have tasted all of the most popular Korean soups and stews out there, I discover a new dish. Kalbi tang is a Korean beef short rib soup that I am very familiar with but have never actually had it. Whenever I go to a Korean restaurant that offers this dish, I spot another item on the menu that is just too hard to resist. I always think, “I can order that next time!”, and that next time just never happened. Well, I’m making a change to that habit and just darn making it myself. Tummy, get ready for a hot bowl of kalbi tang!
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
If you never had Kalbi tang before, think of it as a version of seolleongtang, another great Korean soup. If you had neither, well, what are you waiting for? Both are easy to prepare with minimal ingredients and will warm you during this chilly winter.
Since the jangahjji needs to pickle overnight, start by preparing this component. If you’re wondering, “What the heck is jangahjji?”, it refers to Korean pickled vegetables. It is often served as a side dish and can consist of just cucumbers, green beans and cucumbers, garlic cucumbers and chili peppers or cucumbers, radish and jalapenos. In this case, the jangahjji is used as a sauce for the short ribs instead of just a side dish. The technique is similar to any other pickling recipe with just different ingredients.
When purchasing the beef short ribs, make sure to pick the English-cut. There are three types of short ribs: boneless, English-cut and flanken style. You want the bone-in short rib to add the heartiness to the broth. The flanken style is when the bones are cut across the bones, a cut used when preparing marinated kalbi for Korean bbq; this cut is ideal for grilling. The English-cut is most often used for braising because of the large cuts of meat. Ask your butcher to cut the ribs crosswise into 2-inch pieces rather than in long slabs.
Soaking the ribs in cold water is the first step in removing impurities and draining the blood from the meat and bones.
Blanching the bones is the second assurance of removing the impurities. Taking these steps will achieve a pure, clean broth.
Many kalbi tang recipes do not add onion, garlic, and ginger to the broth but I prefer adding these aromatics to help not only impart flavor but also to remove any unpleasant odors.
I find that chilling the soup overnight makes it easier to skim the fat. The fat hardens and creates a shell, making it easier to scoop out as opposed to when the soup is hot. If you’re pressed on time, simply skim as much fat as you can and continue cooking by adding the radish.
The glass noodles, also known as potato starch noodles, are optional and the soup can be served with just rice. Garnish with egg strips and green onions and you have a complete meal!
The jangahjji is optional as well, but I find that using it as a sauce is optimal. The soup itself is clean and light in flavor; therefore, dipping the meat in the jangahjji adds another flavor element that excites the palate. I served the kalbi tang to first timers like myself and to my parents who had this dish many times before, both parties very much enjoyed it. Another great Korean soup to add to my list!
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