Kalbi Tang (Korean Short Rib Soup) The Ultimate Comfort Food

Kalbi Tang (Korean Short Rib Soup) The Ultimate Comfort Food

Kalbi Tang is a classic and simple Korean dish that takes a whole lot of love, care and time to prepare. I offered to give a couple of really good friends Sharon and Linda a mini Korean cooking lesson. Sharon, being a vegetarian requested Kimchee Chige (stew) and a noodle dish. (I will post those recipes later.) I also wanted to invite our friend Francis, who is quite a foodie himself and loves to eat just as much as I do. He wasn’t interested in the cooking lesson but graciously agreed to join us for dinner after our cooking lesson. Since it was his first time having dinner at my home, I wanted to make something that would be memorable. I recall him saying a couple of times how he missed his mom’s home cooking. It didn’t necessarily have to taste exceptional, but knowing she spent the effort and time to prepare a homemade meal was enough for him. This resonates with me so much because cooking a homemade meal for friends and family is one of things I enjoy the most. I may not be that great at cooking, but I am constantly thinking of how I can make it as perfect as possible, making list after list of “to dos” and making several trips to the grocery stores, specialty markets and farmers market. At the very least my dinner guests will leave knowing I did my best and usually with lots of leftovers too.

This was no exception. To find the right meat, it took me two trips to the Korean super market, 1 trip to Costco (which by the way doesn’t carry English cut shortribs), I found what I needed at Safeway. There were only 2 trays of meat when I was there so I pre-ordered 4 trays to pick up for the following week. Our dinner was on Saturday but I wanted to start making the soup on Friday night after work. The longer it’s simmered the better. This was my selection after picking through about 20 trays of meat. You want a little bit of fat but not too much.

You can choose to soak the meat in cold water to let the blood drain and changing the water a few times. I decided to boil the meat for about 20 minutes and did this process twice and washed the meat thoroughly. I wanted the broth to be as clean as possible.

DSCN0010 DSCN0012

I also tested using one tray of just simple beef ribs. I will definitely use more plain beef ribs next time rather than the English cut shortribs. It will cut your cost in less than half and I have to admit taste just as good. The main thing is you have meat on the BONE as that is where you will get a rich flavorful broth. You must rinse the meat and boil off all the gunk as many times as you see fit.

You should end up with something similar to this.


Get one onion, lots of garlic cloves, the head of green onion and sliced ginger. Wrap it all up in cheesecloth.

DSCN0035 DSCN0037

Drop the bundle in your broth and simmer for a couple of hours.

DSCN0042 DSCN0043

Let it cool and put the pot of broth in the refrigerator. The next morning you will find a disk of fat at the top of your broth that you can practically pick up in one piece and discard. Yes it does look quite nasty which is why you want to remove all this fat from the soup. This is the most efficient way that I find to remove the fat.


Then the simmering continues and as you simmer, you must continue to skim and skim all the residue that will keep floating to the top.


After a few hours, you will end of with a nice clean clear broth.


Boil the soup when it’s ready to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste. I forgot to take pictures, but you will want to also add thick cut pieces of turnip and long rice (optional).

Right before serving, top it off with finely chopped green onion and there you have it.


A bowl of goodness that took hours to prepare but so worth it. Your guests will taste the love in each spoonful.


As this is a dish that takes so long to make, I would suggest making A LOT of it and freezing some. You would do freeze just the broth and meat. Not the garnishes, turnip or long rice. You can add those ingredients after you defrost and reheat. ENJOY!

3 thoughts on “Kalbi Tang (Korean Short Rib Soup) The Ultimate Comfort Food

  1. Wow Cathy!!! I didn’t realize how much work you put into making this dish………..I appreciate all your hard work, and kindness in inviting me over to your beautiful home for a delicious home cooked meal! Reminds me of mom’s cooking! 🙂

  2. Cathy, that was an awesome experience and loved all the food. The best part was sharing it with you. Thank you for your generosity, love and friendship.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s