Spicy Korean Beef Stew

Let me share with you another tweaked version of a Korean dish, Galbi Jjim. It is sweet, super spicy and savory- my kind of winter food! It is so easy to make but only requires long cooking hours.

The original recipe calls for short ribs but since I’m a cheapskate, I opted for a combination of shanks and stew cuts. The point is, to make a good stew, you should have a good mix of lean meat, a few fatty connective tissues (excuse my medical jargon) and bones. Also a good long simmering is essential to bring out that beefy goodness. By long simmer I mean 3-4 hours. If you have the patience, searing the meat beforehand gives it a nice color and helps retain its shapes after long hours of cooking. You can skip this step and if you want a less fatty dish, you can preboil the meat for 10 minutes and discard the liquid like I did for this recipe.


  • 1 kg beef shanks and stew cuts, preboiled for 10 minutes, discard liquid
  • 1 head of garlic chopped finely
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 thumbsized ginger root, sliced thinly
  • 2 pcs star anise
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 3 pcs bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 Tbsp Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 500ml water
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil for sauteing
  • 2 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds for garnishing
  • Sliced spring onions for garnishing


  • Saute garlic until golden (you can set aside a tbsp for garnishing later).
  • Add in diced onions, mix until translucent
  • Add in pre boiled beef pieces
  • Toss in ginger and dried spices – anise, peppercorns, bay leaves. Continue sauteing for few minutes.
  • Add water. Cover until boiling and then simmer on medium heat until liquid reduced to half.
  • After 1 hour or so, add in the soy sauces, chili paste, sesame oil, fish sauce and sugar. Simmer on low, covered. It is essential to keep the temperature low at this point because the gochujang tends to burn easily and gives off an odd, slightly bitter taste to the dish- we don’t want that to happen.

The dish should be ready once the meat is succulent and tender. The liquid is reduced to a reddish dark glossy thin sauce. Top it off with sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. You may also sprinkle a few toasted garlic for added flavor.

This would be an indulgent meal when eaten with boiled rice and fried plantains (because I’m weird) or a great pulutan along with fried potato wedges for those chilly nights of beer and booz.

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