One of the treats I had growing up in Manila in the late 80s was to visit a restaurant called Kimchi, a Korean restaurant similar to the California fast food chain Yoshinoya. They had two main specialties: BBQ Chicken and “Korean Beef,” a stew of the most tender short ribs swimming in the rich thin sauce that was dark, sweet, and slightly hot, topped with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.
It was my favorite but was twice as expensive as the barbecued chicken I often settled for. The chicken was good in its own right but did not provide the same kind of close-your-eyes flavor explosion as the sesame short rib stew. The Korean Beef’s sauce was good enough to fight for and drizzle on unlimited bowls of rice. It was so delicious and multi-faceted that never in my wildest dreams did I think it could ever be replicated in any home kitchen, much less in mine.
Fast forward to a couple of decades and a whole continent later, I made my first attempt based on an old recipe I found online, and after years of trial-and-error revisions, now I get to share my version with you! Enjoy!
I use the leftover sauce and pieces of meat in a noodle dish I like. Enjoy!
Kimchi Restaurant’s “Korean Beef” Stew
1-2 lbs beef short ribs, cut crosswise (not flanken)
1 part dark soy sauce (Filipino brand preferred, Chinese variety is okay. Do not use Kikkoman!)
1 part water
1 part white or brown sugar
1 head garlic, peeled
1 onion, cut in half
1 piece ginger, the size of two thumbs, quartered
4 bay leaves
1 large Korean or Jalapeno pepper cut in half
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, roasted in a pan until brown
In a good pot, combine all the ingredients except for the sesame seeds and the scallions. Simmer on low heat for two hours or until the meat is tender. Top with roasted sesame seeds and scallions and serve with rice.
Incidentally, upon searching for the original source of this recipe to credit, I stumbled across a distant cousin of mine who actually obsessed about the same dish too! Here is her version.
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