Galbitang is a hearty Korean short rib soup made with beef short ribs and aromatic vegetables. Cook this galbitang recipe in an instant pot or by the traditional way—over the stovetop. Achieving a savory yet clean taste in the broth is the key to success for this substantial soup. Making it a day in advance is recommended.

Galbitang soup made with beef short ribs are served with rice and kimchi.

In Korea, beef short rib soup, or “galbitang” (갈비탕)”, used to be a popular wedding soup decades ago. Nowadays, it has been replaced by a fiesta buffet.

I remember eating this soup at various wedding banquets that I attended with my family as a child. As a little guest, I didn’t care much about the wedding, but I still remember how delicious this tender, fall-off-the-bone beef soup was.

Simmered with aromatic vegetables, galbitang soup broth has a deep umami flavor, but it still yields a bright taste. The short ribs are so tender and juicy, I could easily empty out a bowl of rice with a side of kimchi. The addition of Korean glass noodles (dangmyeon) in the soup adds a chewy texture.

It makes a perfect soup to serve as a main dish during cold winter weather. No wonder this short rib soup is often seen on the holiday menu, such as at the Korean New Year or Korean thanksgiving (chuseok).

But you can enjoy this delightful Korean soup any time of the year. It is so satisfying and it fills you up.

Yes, galbitang recipe takes some time to simmer since you are dealing with short ribs, but the work itself isn’t that complicated and it’s a pretty simple process. It just takes some time to cook.

Beef short ribs are prepared to make galbitang.

Soaking or No soaking (in water)

Prior to the cooking, some cooks soak their short ribs in cold water from 30 minutes to even overnight to remove traces of blood. They believed that without the soaking step, the beef could end up with a gamey smell. I don’t recommend soaking, though. Here’s why.

It’s a common misconception that the red liquid that accumulates in package of meat is blood. It’s not actually blood—it’s simply water and a type of meat protein called “myoglobin” that seeps out of the meat.

In olden days, this soaking practice was needed to make soup where the meat was not properly treated after the slaughtering. People brought freshly slaughtered meat home right away, and they had to let it soak to remove the blood that was trapped in every muscle tissue before cooking with it.

This practice was done by our great-grandmothers, and generations later we mindlessly follow that tradition. In the modern day slaughtering process, however, most blood is already removed from the meat before it is packaged for sale.

Therefore it is unnecessary to soak the meat in water beforehand. You can get the clean taste and absolutely no gamey smell as a result, WITHOUT soaking the ribs in the water, as long as you use fresh ribs out of the package that are not too old or expired.

Instant pot vs stovetop for cooking

Traditionally, galbitang is made in a heavy soup pot over the stove, simmering it for a long time to tenderize the ribs. Using an instant pot is a quick way to cook beef short ribs in only 30 minutes.

Of course you can make this soup by the traditional stovetop cooking method. It just takes longer, about 1.5 hours. Either method will work depending on your preference.

Galbitang recipe tips for flavorful broth with clean taste

  1. Par-boiling the short ribs briefly is needed to remove any impurities or tiny particles from the rib bones. It also helps cut down the fat in the soup. You will need to rinse the ribs with hot water after par-boiling.
  2. Galbitang should have clean yet aromatic and savory taste in the soup broth. To accomplish that, beef short ribs are simmered with aromatic vegetables like Korean radish, leek, onion, garlic, dried sea kelp, and dried shiitake mushroom (optional). With these aromatics, you will achieve the authentic flavor of Korean short rib soup.
  3. The broth will be rich due to the fat coming out of ribs. If you want to enjoy the soup with a more low-fat, delicately clean taste, I recommend making the soup a day in advance. As you chill the soup in the refrigerator overnight, the fat will harden and you can easily remove it with a spoon. Besides, the soup will taste even better the next day when you reheat it.

Note: I added a Korean herb called “hwang-gi (황기)”, which is often used making Korean chicken soup (samgyetang). It adds an earthy aroma and flavor to the broth. However, it’s not crucial to have it in this recipe. So don’t bother to look all over town if you can’t get it at your local Asian market. If you find it, try it. You will love the outcome.

What you will need

  • beef short ribs—look for a good quality ribs with large chunks of rib meat attached to the bone
  • glass noodles (dangmyeon)–Korean sweet potato noodles. Optional but recommended
  • Korean radish—thinly sliced (Use daikon as a substitute)
  • Korean soup soy sauce—Do not use regular soy sauce. It will darken the broth too much.
  • Korean tuna sauce or Korean white soy sauce(uh-ganjang)—adds more umami flavor, optional

Soup base aromatics:

  • Korean radish—substitute with daikon if it is not available. Cut into large chunks.
  • Asian leek—substitute with regular leek
  • onion–savory addition
  • garlic—10 cloves or use a whole garlic
  • dried shiitake mushroom—optional
  • dried sea kelp (dashima)—You will need to use it after the broth is made.

How to make Galbitang

Instant pot cooking method

Step 1. Parboil short ribs and clean

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the short ribs and boil for 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Drain and rinse the ribs with hot water. Make sure to scrape off any debris from the cut side of bones.

Step 2. Cook short ribs in water with aromatics

Put ribs, large chunks of radish, leek, onion, garlic, and the optional additions-—shiitake mushroom and Korean herb (hwanggi, optional)–in an instant pot or regular soup pot. Do not add dried sea kelp at this point (you will use it later).

Hint: I use a large disposable soup bag (dashi bag) to hold the aromatics so that it can be easily removed without taking out the meat. The bag also helps hold any small particles that might fall off during the simmering.

Pour in 8 cups of water. For the instant pot, close the lid and set your pot to the Soup function. Set it for 30 minutes. When done, leave it for 10 minutes then do a quick release. If you have time, let it naturally release.

Step 3. Remove the aromatics

Remove the aromatics from the pot, leaving the broth and ribs. Add the dried sea kelp to the broth and let it soak for 5 minutes. Remove the sea kelp.

Note: If you had added the sea kelp along with other aromatics in an instant pot from the beginning, the sea kelp would disintegrate and leave the broth slightly slimy.

Option 1. If you want to serve the soup right away

and if you don’t mind the fat…

Add the thin slices of radish and let it cook until the radish pieces are soft and tender (use Saute mode if using an instant pot), about 2-3 minutes. See step 5 below.

Option 2. Overnight chilling for lighter broth

Step 4. Chill the soup and remove the fat

If you prefer a lighter broth without so much fat, let the soup cool down, and chill in the fridge overnight. The fat in the soup will float to the top and harden. Scoop out the fat with a slotted spoon or fat skimmer.

Step 5. Reheat the soup with radish and season

To get ready to serve, transfer the soup to a soup pot and add the thin radish slices. Cover and reheat the soup over medium heat until radish pieces are soft and tender, about 3 minutes. Season with Korean soup soy sauce and Korean tuna sauce (optional). Add salt for additional seasoning.

Note: You can use the radish that are used in making soup broth. I found it becomes too mushy for my liking. It’s a personal preference, but I like my radish soft, not mushy.

Step 6. Add noodles

Meanwhile, soak Korean glass noodles in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. Add the soaked noodles and simmer for another 1-2 minutes.

Stovetop cooking method

  1. If cooking in a soup pot over the stovetop instead, put parboiled short ribs and all the aromatics in a pot with water.
  2. Cover with a lid and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1-1.5 hours. (You might need to add a little more water if the steam evaporates too much during simmering). Make sure to remove the sea kelp after 5 minutes of simmering.
  3. Remove the aromatics and add the thin radish slices and continue to cook until they are soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the drained glass noodles and heat through.

Step 7. Garnish and serve

To serve, ladle the hot soup along with short ribs, radish pieces, and some noodles into a serving bowl. Garnish with green onion, freshly cracked black pepper, sliced shiitake mushroom (if used in broth) on top. Serve with rice and banchan and/or kimchi.

A hand is holding a piece of galbitang short rib over the bowl of soup.

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Galbitang soup made with beef short ribs are served with rice and kimchi.

Galbitang Recipe (Korean Short Rib Soup)

Galbitang is a hearty Korean short rib soup made with aromatic vegetables. Cook this galbitang recipe in an instant pot or over the stovetop. Making it a day in advance is recommended to achieve a clean taste in the broth.
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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lb beef short ribs
  • 2 cups thinly sliced Korean radish, about 1-inch wide, 1/8-inch thick
  • 3 oz Korean glass noodles (dangmyeon)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Korean soup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Korean tuna sauce, optional
  • salt, to season
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • green onion, finely chopped

Soup base aromatics

  • 2 large slices Korean radish (or daikon), 2-inch thickness
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 Asian leek, or regular leek
  • 2 dried shiitake mushroom, optional
  • 2 sticks Korean herb (hwanggi), optional
  • 1 large piece dried sea kelp
  • 8 cups water

Equipment

Instructions 

To clean the short ribs

  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the short ribs and boil for 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Drain and rinse the ribs with hot water. Make sure to scrape off any debris from the cut side of bones.

For the Instant pot cooking method

  • Put ribs, large chunks of radish, leek, onion, garlic, and the optional additions-—shiitake mushroom and Korean herb (optional) in an instant pot. Do not add dried sea kelp at this point (you will use it later). Pour in 8 cups of water. close the lid and set your pot to the Soup function. Set it for 30 minutes. When done, leave it for 10 minutes then do a quick release. If you have time, let it naturally release.
  • Remove the aromatics from the pot, leaving the broth and ribs. Add the dried sea kelp to the broth and let it soak for 5 minutes. Remove the sea kelp.
  • Note: For making soup base with aromatic vegetables: If you have a large soup bag (dashi bag), use it to hold the aromatics together so that it can be easily removed without taking out the meat.

For the Stovetop cooking method

  • If cooking in a soup pot over the stovetop instead, put parboiled short ribs and all the aromatics in a pot with water. Cover with a lid and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1-1.5 hours. (You might need to add a little more water if the steam evaporates too much during simmering). Make sure to remove the sea kelp after 5 minutes of simmering.
  • Remove the aromatics and add the thin radish slices, minced garlic, and continue to cook until they are soft, about 2-3 minutes.

To finish off cooking

  • Option 1. If you want to serve the soup right away (if you don’t mind the fat): add the thin slices of radish, minced garlic, and let it cook until the radish pieces are soft and tender (use Saute mode if using an instant pot), about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, soak Korean glass noodles in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. Add the drained noodles and simmer, about 1-2 minutes. Season with Korean soup soy sauce and Korean tuna sauce (if using). Add salt for more seasoning.
  • Option 2. If you prefer a lighter broth without so much fat: let the soup cool down, and chill in the fridge overnight. The fat in the soup will float to the top and harden. Scoop out the fat with a slotted spoon or fat skimmer.
    To get ready to serve, transfer the soup to a soup pot and add the thin radish slices and minced garlic. Cover and reheat the soup over medium heat until radish pieces are soft and tender. Meanwhile, soak Korean glass noodles in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. Add the soaked noodles and simmer for the last 1-2 minutes. Season with Korean soup soy sauce and Korean tuna sauce (if using). Add salt for more seasoning.
  • To serve, ladle the hot soup along with short ribs, radish pieces, and some noodles into a serving bowl. Garnish with green onion, freshly cracked black pepper, sliced shiitake mushroom (if used in broth) on top. Serve with rice and banchan and/or kimchi.
Calories: 485kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 122mg, Sodium: 782mg, Potassium: 1017mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 136IU, Vitamin C: 20mg, Calcium: 88mg, Iron: 6mg
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