I’m super-jealous that my best friend lives in Southern California. Especially in light of the fact it was a balmy 14°F in NYC when I wrote this post. BFF is a 6’1″ guy with simple taste but a big appetite. It bugs me that he can eat twice as much as I can (and as you saw in San Francisco, I can put away a LOT of food) and weigh only ten or so pounds more than me. He’s super active and also has an incredibly demanding job with a company I guarantee you’ve heard of; he truly has no time to cook normal meals for himself. I love him but hate his monster metabolism.
As thanks for letting me stay with him for a whole week, I promised BFF I’d cook a few meals for him. The morning after my arrival, I looked in his fridge and I tell you, it hurt when my face fell in shock: dude had nothing in there. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. He had a few condiments like mustard, sriracha sauce, teriyaki sauce, and balsamic vinegar. And some yogurt. His freezer, on the other hand, had several packages of frozen fruit, mostly blueberries. He’s never home long enough to buy and use fresh food before it all goes bad.
We went grocery shopping on my first day in Long Beach at some place called Fresh and Easy, which must be a new grocery chain because I definitely would have known about it if it had been around when I lived in SoCal. Their prices are surprisingly good, tons lower than Ralph’s or Vons. We picked up some of what I would consider the basics (eggs, onions, garlic, butter, and flour) as well as the ingredients for my Slow-Cooker Kalbi because I was going to teach him to use his Crock Pot.
Slow Cooker Kalbi with Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Kalbi is typically grilled, not slow-cooked/stewed, so this is not authentic as far as cooking technique. I’m pretty sure I got the key ingredients right, though. Brussels sprouts are not typical Korean fare either, and whether they are boiled or steamed, they taste like old gym shoes. But toss them in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roasted at moderately high heat, they become delectable little morsels of yum. I was looking for something BFF could replicate on his own without too much work.
BFF liked this so much he not only asked for the recipe, he also decided to move his Crock Pot from its usual place in the back of a lower cabinet to a more easily accessible spot. I consider that a successful dinner!
I guess you want the recipe too, huh?
Slow Cooker Kalbi
1 medium ripe pear, peeled, halved, cored, and roughly chopped
6-8 medium cloves garlic, peeled
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Ground pepper to taste
3 scallions, green and white parts sliced thin
3 pounds English-style short ribs, excess fat removed (you can substitute with a well-marbled chuck roast, silver skin removed and cut into 2-inch pieces; I used chuck roast because it was cheaper than short ribs)
1. Process pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, oil, sugar, vinegar, and pepper in food processor or blender until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer to slow cooker and stir in scallions.
2. Place meat in slow cooker insert and mix so marinade covers each piece of meat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Marinate ribs for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours, turning meat once or twice to ensure that it marinates evenly.
3. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours or until beef is tender. Serve with white rice, kochujang (spicy red chili pepper and bean paste), lettuce leaves, and kimchi. If you like it spicy, add a teaspoon or more of red pepper flakes to the marinade.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts, bruised leaves removed
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1/8 cup olive oil (melted butter is great too, but not so healthy)
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Heat oven to 375F. Halve the Brussels sprouts if they are large. Rub garlic clove on bottom of sheet pan. Toss sprouts in olive oil and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown.