Korean beef stew (or Korean braised short ribs) brings together many classic flavors of Korea. While there are many variations of the recipe, most combine spicy chili paste (gochujang), garlic, Korean soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine (among other ingredients).
The resulting stew has a deep rich flavor with subtle hints of nuts, spice, sweetness from the rice wine and umami flavors from the fermented chili paste and soy sauce. Slow cooking the Korean Beef Stew with the bone in creates a thicker broth and more intense meaty flavor that brings the overall dish to another level.
When braising, the long, slow cooking breaks down the fibers in tougher beef cuts and results in fall-off-the-bone tender meat.
Some cooks decide to skip using the additional vegetables and just serve the beef short ribs in their sauce over rice. Other versions (like ours) add in additional vegetables toward the end of cooking. Either method results in a beautifully cooked beef stew that will satisfy any lover of Korean cuisine or beef stews in general.
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Don’t skimp on the quality of short ribs for the recipe, but do try to select ribs with less fat, or trim off as much fat as possible. The meat is going to shrink quite a bit during the cooking process, so don’t be afraid of the quantity of short ribs in the recipe.
One of the prime ingredients in this recipe is Korean fermented chili paste. During our time in Korea, we came to love Gochujang (as it is called). This chili paste is a cornerstone of Korean cuisine, a primary ingredient in soups, stews, and marinades. There are a few varieties of gochujang, so if you don’t like too much heat, you can find milder versions.
Gochujang is made with red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. The rice adds a sweet flavor to the condiment, in addition to the heat from the chili. This recipe isn’t really about the heat, anyway – the rich flavor of the gochujang adds tons of savory umami flavor that make this meal unforgettable.
Most Asian supermarkets carry the paste, but if you can’t find gochujang, you can make a substitute version. Blend two tablespoon red chili pepper flakes with a little soy sauce and sugar, to a thick consistency. This won’t replicate the complexity of the Korean version but provides a similar flavor profile.
Any traditional Korean meal is served with lots of side dishes. We typically serve this stew with rice, kimchi, and grilled spring onions, but you can use any of your favorite Korean sides.
Here are a few of our recommended things to eat in Seoul, Korea for extra inspiration:
- 3 lbs (1.3 kg) lean short ribs
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) vegetable oil
- 3 cups (700 ml) beef stock
- 1 cup (235 ml) Korean soy sauce*
- 1 cup (235 ml) rice wine
- 1/2 (115 ml) cup apple juice
- 2 tbsp (40 g) Gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
- 1 1/2 tbsp (22 ml) sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ onion, minced
- 2 large peeled carrots, cut in 1 inch squares
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut in 1 inch squares
- Generously salt and pepper the short ribs on all sides. If time permits, cover them in plastic wrap and allow them to rest for an hour, or opimally overnight.
- Add vegetable oil to large pot and heat to high
- Brown short ribs on all size, in small batches so as not to crowd the pot and allow for browning.
- Set browned ribs aside
- Discard oil from pot
- Whisk together stock, soy sauce, wine, chili paste, apple juice, sesame oil, garlic and onion.
- Add sauce to pot, and bring to a simmer.
- Add short ribs, adding a little water if necessary, to make sure ribs are covered.
- Cover, and simmer short ribs until they are almost falling off the bone (approximately 2 hours)
- Add sweet potatoes and carrots, and continue simmering until vegetables are softened to the desired level (approximately 1/2 hour)
- Serve with kimchi, rice, and scallions on the side
Add a little additional sesame oil at the end to taste
*Korean Soy Sauce has a slightly different flavor than other Asian varieties. You can use another soy sauce along with a teaspoon of sugar as a substitute.