Kalbi (Korean Barbecued Beef)

Feeding a family of six something that everyone will eat can be a challenge.  Thankfully, I live with a family of meat-hounds, so if I want a slam-dunk meal that everyone will enjoy, then I look no further than grilling up a good steak. Everyone eats it, and not one complaint will be heard.

I love those meals. Happy kids, happily eating their dinner. Just warms my heart.

I found this recipe for Korean Barbecued Beef, or Kalbi, in a great book called Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn. Mary is a long time blogger and mother of 10. I figured if anyone would have good kid friendly recipes, it would be her.  Kid friendly and easy are my two favorite things for a weeknight meal. This recipe did not disappoint–it was a snap to put together, and my boys devoured it! Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I made modifications to the original recipe. The original recipe is below, with my changes in parenthesis.

2 pounds of round steak

1/3 C. soy sauce

1 C. firmly packed brown sugar (1/2 C. packed)

2 Tbs. sesame oil

1/4 C. lemon-lime soda

3 cloves of garlic, minced (4 cloves)

3 green onions, chopped (1/2 C. thinly sliced white onion)

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. sesame seeds

(1/4 tsp. ground ginger)

(1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes)

I found a nice 2 pound round steak. What is it with attributing personality traits to meat? Hubby & I always joke about our grandmother’s offering us “some nice steak” as kids. Well, this is my nice steak.

Slice the round steak against the grain, into 1/4 inch slices. My Grandma taught me to half freeze a cut of meat that you want to slice rather thinly. She could slice a roast so thin that you could practically read a newspaper through it.  Following Grandma’s long standing advice,  I popped the steak in the freezer for about an hour before I sliced it. When the meat starts to firm up, it doesn’t wiggle in the center so much while being sliced, consequently, I was able to get thiner slices.

Once the steak is sliced, throw everything else in to a rectangular baking dish. Give it a quick stir with a fork to make sure it’s all swirly and happy.

Add the steak slices to the baking dish. Turn the steak and stir it around so that it is thoroughly coated in the marinade.  Cover it with plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge for 24 hours. I ended up assembling everything and getting it in the fridge before bed one night. When I woke up, I uncovered it,  stirred it all around, covered it back up and promptly forgot about it until dinnertime.

Now the recipe said to grill the steak as is, but I didn’t trust myself not to drop the thin slices through the grates of the grill. And when I say that I didn’t trust myself, I really mean that I didn’t want to drive Hubby crazy trying not to drop the slices through the grates of the grill.

Since Hubby is the keeper of the flame, I want to keep him happy. That is exactly why I skewered the slices lengthwise. Easy to grill, easy to turn. If you choose to do this as well, do yourself a favor and soak the skewers in water for half an hour before spearing the beef. Otherwise, they are liable to incinerate, which would be a real bummer.

Grill the steak until desired degree of doneness. Hubby grilled them on high heat for about 3 minutes per side, and they were medium to medium well.

My boys thought the skewers were a lot of fun. They were calling dinner “steak-on-a-stick” or “sweet steak.” The latter is appropriate because it was quite sweet, so I will cut the sugar a bit more next time. Serving very savory side dishes balance out the sweetness of the steak.  I served it up with jasmine rice, garden salad, and a Provencal Summer Squash and Potato Gratin.  Everyone gobbled it up! And as an added bonus: the leftovers were absolutely fab the next day when I put ’em quesadillas!

Kalbi: Korean Barbecued Beef


Adapted from Family Feasts for $75 Week by Mary Ostyn

Serves 6-8

2 pounds of round steak

1/3 C. soy sauce

1/2 C. firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tbs. sesame oil

1/4 C. lemon-lime soda

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 C. thinly sliced white onion

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. sesame seeds

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

  1. Thinly slice (1/4 inch or less) round steak against the grain; set aside.
  2. Place soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon-lime soda, garlic, onion, pepper, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a shallow baking dish. Stir with a fork to combine.
  3. Place steak slices into the marinade and stir to evenly coat.  Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  4. The next day, skewer the beef lengthwise, keeping as straight as possible.
  5. Grill steak over medium high heat, until done to your liking. I grill mine for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side for medium-well done.
  6. Serve with rice or noodles and a lot of fresh, steamed vegetables.


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  1. says

    I love your blog Kirsten. It sure reflects you. You sound like a great Mom. I’m so glad you are so happy. And a HOT husband to boot. No wonder there are 4 boys!

    Miss you, and think I’ll try that beef recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    I use the same trick when I need to slice steak really thin for when I’m doing beef and broccoli or beef stroganoff!

    This sounds yummy, going to have to try it.


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