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Japanese Food Article

    Karubi (カルビ)

    Karubi (カルビ)

    Whether you’re a yakiniku enthusiast or simply curious about this mouthwatering dish, delve into our article to uncover the origins, cooking techniques, and regional variations that make karubi a staple in dining experiences across Japan. From its marbling perfection to grilling tips that enhance its savory goodness, there’s much to explore about karubi that will elevate your appreciation of Japanese culinary traditions. Dive in and savor the details!

    What is Karubi?

    Karubi in black plate

    Saikyo miso karubi (カルビ) refers to a dish made with karubi, which is short ribs of beef, often marinated or seasoned with Saikyo miso. Saikyo miso is a type of sweet white miso from Kyoto, Japan. It has a mild and sweet flavor compared to other types of miso due to its high rice content and lower salt content.

    Karubi, also famous as boneless short rib or flanken-cut rib, is a highly favored in yakiniku for its tenderness and rich juiciness. It boast more marbling compared to roast cuts. Karubi is a menu item in yakiniku restaurants, distinct from cuts listed in supermarkets or butcher shops. Kalbi refers to the meat around the ribs and is a staple cut for yakiniku (Japanese barbecue). You can find the rankings of different wagyu or beef here.

    While it’s not officially defined as a specific cut, it generally refers to beef belly meat according to the National Yakiniku Association. Historically in Japan, yakiniku began with affordable cuts around the ribs, which became popular as kalbi due to their fatty richness. Interestingly, the term “kalbi” originates from the Korean word meaning ribs and the surrounding meat, reflecting its evolution across cultures and cuisines.

    Origin of Karubi

    Karubi being grilled

    Common Japanese style of yakiniku, drawing heavy influences from Korean dishes such as bulgogi and galbi, became widespread in Japan during the 20th Century. Karubi or baraniku — short ribs. From the Korean word “galbi”. In Japan, locals usually served this without the bones, unless it is hone-tsuki-karubi. Karubi is firmly part of Japanese yakiniku culture but Kalbi means “Ribs” in Korean and the style originated in Korea. Popular dishes at yakiniku restaurants include horumon and kalbi. Kalbi, a beef dish with roots in Korea, gained popularity in Japan after the war and especially surged in the 1980s during the Korean boom. Originally developed in response to post-war food shortages, kalbi has become a beloved menu staple at Japanese izakayas today.

    Cooking Methods of Karubi in Japan

    Karubi with marinated seasoning

    For those seeking exceptionally marbled pieces, “sankaku karubi” or “jo-karubi” are recommended choices. To achieve optimal flavor, grill karubi for approximately 80 percent of the cooking time on one side until it develops a nicely grilled color, then finish with 20 percent on the other side. Due to its high marbling content, even thinly sliced karubi, about 3 mm (1/8 inch) thick, can be quickly grill—ready to flip in as little as 10 seconds—making it a perfect choice for a delightful yakiniku experience.

    Kalbi is immensely popular at izakayas, but its flavor and texture can vary significantly depending on factors like fat content, moisture level, and the type of cattle used, all influenced by different regions. Another crucial aspect is how it complements offal. For instance, in the Kanto region, it’s typical to wrap kalbi in pork offal and other cuts, often paired with sweet and spicy sauces for a harmonious blend. Conversely, in Kansai, kalbi is less commonly serve with offal and enjoyed with a more savory profile. Cooking methods also differ; while grilling is popular in Kanto, charcoal grilling reigns in Kansai.

    Karubi FAQ

    What is the food culture of karubi in Japan?

    Karubi is prized for its tenderness and rich flavor, making it a favorite choice for grilling over charcoal or gas at the table, where diners can cook the meat to their preferred doneness. Locals make this dish by grilling or stewing meat cut from the ribs of beef and is popular by a sweet and spicy sauce. They also eat these dishes at drinking parties and banquets at izakayas.

    How is karubi typically prepared and served in Yakiniku restaurants?

    Locals commonly marinated karubi in a variety of sauces or they season it with salt and pepper before grilling over charcoal or gas flames. In yakiniku restaurants, diners grill the slices themselves, enjoying the sizzle and aroma as they cook. They often served the meat with dipping sauces like sesame sauce or ponzu (citrus-based sauce) to enhance its flavor. You can also enjoy kalbi in dishes like hotpots (nabe) or stir-fries (teppanyaki), showcasing its versatility in Japanese cuisine.

    Where to buy Karubi in Japan?

    Ogibashi (扇橋本店)

    Karubi from Ogibashi

    Their Kalbi Sanmai” is 4,380 yen and you can compare five different types of kalbi, including top, middle cut, and bone. They also allow you to enjoy approximately 300g of premium kalbi, premium loin, top-grade kalbi, sirloin or rib loin or fillet, top-grade loin, and mid-calvestment kalbi. They offer salt, ponzu, and wasabi soy sauce, so please enjoy it however you like.

    Address: 1-4-1 Ogibashi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0011
    Phone number: 03-3699-8929
    Hours open: 11:00-23:00 Closed: Mondays

    Karubi (カルビ)

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