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10 Oct

Korean-Style Short Ribs

Korean short ribs have an irresistible combination of sweet, salty and spicy flavors. Traditionally, the sweetness comes from sugar or corn syrup, usually half a cup or more. Thanks to Christian Chun, who submitted a fruit-based marinade for Korean-style short ribs to the Primal Blueprint Cookbook Contest, you can lose the processed sugar without losing a bit of flavor.

Fruit provides all the sweetness the ribs need. Christian’s recipe combines apple, Asian pear and kiwi. For a slightly different but equally delicious marinade, try using antioxidant-rich blackberries instead.

The sweetness of the fruit, contrasted with tamari, garlic and rice vinegar, hits all the right notes. The result is intensely flavored and truly addictive ribs. Wrapped in a cooling leaf of romaine lettuce and served with a feisty scallion salad, Primal Korean Short Ribs will add new dimensions of flavor to your table.


2 pounds beef short ribs. For Korean short ribs, “flanken-style” is the preferred cut. Flanken-style ribs about 1/2-inch thick and contain three rib bones. This marinade can also be used with other types of beef, such as 1/2-inch thick sirloin steaks.


  • 1/2 apple, skin on
  • 1 kiwi, peeled
  • 1/2 Asian pear, skin on (optional)
  • OR use 2 cups blackberries instead of other fruit
  • 1/2 cup wheat-free tamari
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 stalks of scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves


Chop the fruit up into chunks and put all marinade ingredients into a blender until smooth.

Pour the marinade over meat into a Ziploc bag, an air-tight container or a bowl wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. Make sure the meat is completely covered with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Grill ribs four minutes on each side for rare and a minute or two longer for medium rare. The ribs can also be cooked under a broiler, but might take 3-5 minutes longer to cook.

Serve with Romaine lettuce leaves and an optional garnish of thinly sliced garlic, thinly sliced Korean hot pepper or jalapeno, and scallion salad.

Scallion Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of scallions (about 12 scallions)
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon wasabi (optional)


Chop most of the white part off the scallions and trim the top so the onion is about four inches long. Using the tip of a knife, cut the green stalks into very thin strips.

A pair of scissors will also work well for this. Submerge the sliced scallions in a bowl of ice water to make them curl. If the green stalks aren’t sliced thinly enough, they won’t curl.

Remove scallions and dry. Toss with remaining ingredients.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Korean BBQ is one of my all time favorites! This looks great and eliminates my sugar concerns. Thanks for the recipe Christian!

    Dave wrote on October 10th, 2009
  2. It looks great, and I plan on trying it out for next Sunday.

    Brett wrote on October 10th, 2009
  3. Beautiful! This is going to be a must try.

    Who doesn’t like a good set of ribs! Eat more ribs for a visible set of ribs! :)

    Grok wrote on October 10th, 2009
  4. Looks amazing!


    Rafi Bar-Lev at Passionate Fitness wrote on October 10th, 2009
  5. Yeah Goods :)

    VPS wrote on October 10th, 2009
  6. damn those scallions are fancy
    pretty sure grok is loling in his cave?

    jessica wrote on October 10th, 2009
  7. You guys did an amazing job with this recipe… I would have never thought of blackberries! That’s an awesome twist. Thanks for posting and making this recipe!

    christian chun wrote on October 10th, 2009
  8. Excellent! Korean ribs, it’s what for dinner.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Ogg the Caveman wrote on October 11th, 2009
  9. Please tell me you’re not using a knife on a cement counter top… I feel sorry for your knife and counter!

    Squalor wrote on October 11th, 2009
  10. Have flanken style ribs on order from my Amish guy. Getting Wednesday so will have this Thursday. I appreciate it.

    Sandy Sommer, RKC wrote on October 12th, 2009
  11. I like using my smoker for ribs so I’m going to give this one a go in the smoker!

    Toolman wrote on October 12th, 2009
  12. I tried this last night. The marinade was great! It really clung to the meat and caramelized. We only had the American-cut style of ribs (fat and square) so to allow them to cook faster, I cut them into individual ribs and put them under the broiler for about 10-12 minutes per side. Still too tough and chewy for me. I’m used to slow cooking bone meats. I think next time, I’ll sear them on the stove and braise them in this marinade covered in the over for an hour, and then another hour uncovered.

    Johanna wrote on October 14th, 2009
  13. We made this in the slow cooker, and I’ll suggest that you not add any water to it at all if you use that. I used about a quarter-cup of water to rinse all the marinade out of the bag and into the cooker, and ours turned out soupy -marvelous, but soupy.

    I used the blackberry version as I’m allergic to kiwifruit. And right now I’m VERY full.

    Griff wrote on October 18th, 2009
  14. Did anyone find them tough? I was told to boil them before I marinade but I don’t know if that’s the best method.

    gaucoin wrote on October 22nd, 2009
  15. This does look good. Love the fancy scallions too.

    Except I’m not a fan of the charred part of the meat.

    Cambree wrote on November 4th, 2009
  16. I’ve made this twice now, the first time with the apple mixture, the second with berries, but I used a combo of 1.5 cups of raspberries and .5 cups of blueberries. The berry mixture was delicious. I’ll eventually try blackberries once they’re available (meaning free from the bushes near my house).

    I tweaked it even more in that I didn’t grill them (no grill access at the moment). Instead, I threw them in a large saucepan (with a lid), along with the marinade, and a cup or two of water. I cooked them for an hour on the stovetop on low heat, turning them every so often and mixing the slush thickening on the bottom of the pot. When most of the water has evaporated and the slush turns to sludge (coating the bottom of the pan in nearly burnt goodness), they’re perfect: tender, with a few crispy spots.

    This is my new favorite dish of the moment. :)

    Melle wrote on July 3rd, 2010
    • I should have mentioned: You definitely want to strain the marinade first to get all the seeds/chunkiness out. Otherwise you end up with ribs slathered in what looks a bit like applesauce.

      Melle wrote on July 3rd, 2010
  17. Tried the marinade on boneless pork loin chops and it was excellent!

    Jonathan wrote on July 26th, 2010
  18. Just finished eating this with a friend, and we’re both blown away at how amazing it turned out! We followed the recipe to a tee, but we’re definitely going to try it again with other fruits! And we used a George Foreman-like grill, which turned out great!
    Thanks for so many great recipes!

    Christine wrote on January 28th, 2011

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