Does dinner get better than tender, literally falling-off-the-bone low- and slow-cooked short ribs? It does, if it's Galbi Jjim, Korean-style short ribs braised in a subtly sweet, garlicky, gingery soy based sauce! If you know how to boil water, you can make Galbi Jjim. Shall we?
- What is Galbi Jjim
- Health and Dietary Considerations of Galbi Jjim
- Ingredients You Need for Galbi Jjim
- What Kind of Short Ribs for Galbi Jjim?
- Instructions for How to Make Galbi Jjim
- How to Store Galbi Jjim
- Where to Get Best Restaurant Galbi Jjim in Los Angeles
- Galbi Jjim, Korean Braised Short Ribs Recipe
What is Galbi Jjim
Galbi Jjim is a classic Korean dish of beef short ribs braised in a subtly sweet, garlicky, gingery soy-based sauce until the short rib meat is so tender it literally falls off the bone. The dish also includes vegetables which vary based on tastes and availability, but almost always include carrots, radish, and potatoes.
Because beef short ribs are now somewhat of a luxury ingredient, and the cooking method is low and slow braising, Galbi Jjim is traditionally made and served on holidays like the Korean Harvest Festival known as Chuseok, Christmas Holidays, New Year’s, and big special occasions like family birthdays.
But Galbi Jjim doesn't just have to be reserved for special occasions. If you have the time, or a slow cooker or pressure cooker, you can make this recipe any time of the year, any day of the week. I have made this dish so many times and it gets better and better each time!
Difference Between Galbi and Galbi Jjim?
Wait, so what's the difference between Galbi and Galbi Jjim? So glad you asked because they're kind of the same thing, marinated in similar sauces, but cooked in very different ways.
The literal translation of "galbi" from Korean to English is "ribs." Galbi and Galbi Jjim are both made of beef short ribs, cut in different ways, in similar garlicky, gingery, soy based sauces, but one is grilled, and the other is braised.
Galbi: Marinated and Grilled
When people say "Galbi," they are referring most often to flanken beef short ribs pictured above left, the flatter ½-inch thick pieces, usually "cross-cut" across the ribs so each rib piece has three bones. The Galbi is marinated in a subtly sweet soy-based marinade for at least a few hours and up to a few days, then cook very quickly on a grill.
Grilled Galbi can also be made with the thicker cut of beef short rib as well, but it's not as common.
Galbi Jjim: Low and Slow Braise
"Jjim" literally translates from Korean to English as "braise" or "steam." Galbi Jjim are the same beef short ribs, but cut in the English-cut style, pictured above right, with thicker pieces of meat attached to an obvious flat rib bone. The short ribs are not marinated in their garlicky, gingery, sweet soy marinade, but braised for a long time in the sauce on the stovetop.
Health and Dietary Considerations of Galbi Jjim
As printed, this Galbi Jjim recipe is:
- refined sugar-free
Short ribs can contribute to a protein-focused lifestyle. One serving of cooked short ribs has an average 49 grams of protein!
Ingredients You Need for Galbi Jjim
Galbi Jjim is essentially two types of ingredients: the short ribs and vegetables together, and the braising liquid.
Here are the ingredients you need:
- Beef short ribs, English cut
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Korean or daikon radish
- Green onions
- Asian pear
- Beef stock or broth
- Tamari or soy sauce
- Mirim (Korean version of Japanese cooking wine, mirin)
- Black pepper
- Sesame oil
The beauty of Galbi Jjim is that once you get the short ribs, the radish, and carrots down, you can add any other kind of vegetable to the dish. Hearty root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are favorites, and even leafy greens added at the end work great. We'll get to those options shortly.
What Kind of Short Ribs for Galbi Jjim?
As mentioned above, there are a couple of different types of beef short ribs: flat, flanken or cross-cut short ribs and thick, meaty English cut short ribs, both pictured above.
For Galbi Jjim, we want English style short ribs on the right in the photo above, which are cut between the long, flat rib bones to separate them, and leaves a thick piece 2- to 3-inch piece of meat sitting on top of one piece of bone. Most butchers and grocery stores carry short ribs in this format. If you can afford it, spring for the USDA Prime grade over the Choice grade, as it is more tender and has more fat marbling. (expert souce: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
You can also find boneless short ribs which is the short rib meat cut off the rib bones of English-cut short ribs. However, if you prefer boneless short ribs, I recommend you cook the Galbi Jjim with the bones to extract flavor and collagen from the bones, and remove the bones yourself after cooking, before serving.
What is known as flanken-cut, cross-cut short ribs, or sometimes "LA Galbi" because that style was popularized by Korean barbecue in Los Angeles, are not super common in regular grocery stores. If you want these flanken short ribs for a future galbi experience, you may have to ask your butcher to cut them specifically for you.
Pro-tip: I don't usually recommend buying meat from Costco because of the way high-volume production increases the chance of food-borne illness. But in the case of prime-grade short ribs, Costco offers an unbeatable price. Because we cook the beef short ribs low and slow until completely well-done, rather than seared fast on high heat to only medium, there is much less risk of food-borne illness.
Additional Ingredients Notes and Resources
Korean radish, called "mu" or "moo," is a large white radish that has a light green top near the stem. It is similar to Japanese daikon radish, though it is bigger, sometimes 4- to 5-inches in diameter! I have only ever found Korean radish at Asian grocery stores or local farmers' markets.
Asian pear. These are 3- to 4-inch diameter, softball sized round, tan pears. Asian pears are increasingly available at regular grocery stores, and different varieties are called Butterscotch pears, Shingo pears, or specifically Korean pears.
Tamari or soy sauce. Tamari is Japanese soy sauce. Unlike regular soy sauce which has wheat, tamari has little or no wheat. Therefore, tamari can be gluten-free, though not always, so if you eat gluten-free, make sure to double-check labels. I use this organic gluten-free tamari. This organic, gluten-free tamari is also great, though might be a little harder to find in-store.
Mirim. 미림, mirim, is the Korean version of Japanese cooking wine known as mirin. You can use either sake, which is Japanese rice wine, or mirin, Japanese rice wine that is naturally sweet and seasoned. Make sure to use mirin and not aji-mirin, and read the label to make sure there is no added sugar or corn syrup.
Sesame oil. Use toasted sesame oil, and not regular sesame oil. Regular sesame oil is golden in color. Toasted sesame oil, on the other hand, is dark brown and is used as a finishing oil on the final dish, not as a cooking oil. This is the Japanese brand that everyone and their mothers' have been using for years. You can usually find organic like this one in natural and higher end grocery stores.
All other produce like carrots, garlic, ginger, onions, green onions I get from the regular grocery store.
Instructions for How to Make Galbi Jjim
I wasn't kidding when I said if you can boil water, you can make Galbi Jjim. Literally put everything in a large pot, bring to boil, then simmer for hours until the meat is falling off the bone.
They key is just adding the various ingredients along the way at roughly the right time, it doesn't have to be exact.
Here are the high-level steps to make a gloriously rich, tender Galbi Jjim:
Flash Boil Short Ribs. Rinse the short ribs under cold running water, making sure there aren't any sharp bones shards. Place bones in a large, heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, fill with water to cover bones by an inch, then bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Turn down heat a little if the boiling get a little too rowdy. Boil for 5 minutes. This serves to knock out any remaining bits and baubles from the meat and bone and make a what I like to call a "flash broth."
Prepare the Braising Sauce. While the short ribs are boiling, blitz the tamari/soy sauce, mirin, Asian pear, garlic, ginger, onion, and black pepper in a high power blender or food processor. The puree doesn't have to be super smooth.
Strain Short Ribs. Turn off the heat. Remove the short ribs from the broth—I just place them on the upside down lid of my Le Creuset. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve. Set the broth aside. You can discard the foamy bits in the sieve.
Wipe out the pot of any residue. You don't have to actually wash the pot. Place the flash boiled short ribs back into the pot.
Braise Short Ribs. Return the flash-boiled short ribs back to the cleaned pot along with all of the braising sauce. Add the flash broth from previous step or pre-made stock so that the short ribs are submerged with about ½-inch sticking above the liquid. Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Prep Vegetables. While the short ribs are braising, prep the carrots, daikon radish, mushrooms, and any other heavy, starchy vegetables you might be using.
Braise Vegetables with Short Ribs. Add prepared vegetables to pot with short ribs, doing your best to shimmy the vegetables between the ribs and into the braising liquid. Cover, bring back to boil, reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are fork-tender and short ribs are falling off the bone, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Add Leafy Green Vegetables. If you are using leafy green vegetables like baby bok choy, stir into the Galbi Jjim 30 minutes after adding the sturdier vegetables.
To Serve Right Away. Gently remove cooked short ribs and vegetables to serving platter. Strain braising liquid through a sieve into a fat separator or a tall, narrow bowl. Remove fat, then pour braising liquid over short ribs and vegetables.
Garnish. Garnish Galbi Jjim with sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.
Pro Tips and Techniques for Galbi Jjim
- Cook in advance. If you do have the foresight and time to cook in advance, make Galbi Jjim at least 1 day in advance. The flavor will deepen, the short ribs will be more tender, and the solidified fat will be easier to remove. See detailed notes about Advance Cooking below.
- Use the widest pot you have to give as much room to the short ribs and vegetables to spread out into the braising liquid, rather than stacking up on top of each other. This will esepcially help the vegetables stay intact.
- Simmer, not boil. Because Galbi Jjim is braised, the cooking temperature has to be very low. Except for the initial boil to get the pot up to temperature, maintain the temperature at a very gentle simmer. You simply cannot turn up the heat and boil it to make it faster. The whole point of a braise is to cook on low heat, over a long period of time to breakdown the collagen and fibers to make the meat super tender.
- DO NOT PUT HOT LIQUID IN THE REFRIGERATOR to cool down. Hot liquid will make it too warm in the refrigerator, compromising the safety of the foods in there. Allow the braising liquid to cool slightly on the countertop first, then place in the refrigerator.
Can You Cook Galbi Jjim in Advance?
Yes! You can and absolutely should cook Galbi Jjim in advance! Galbi jjim is actually better if you make it one or two days in advance, which is partially why it's such a great dish for a party or special occasion. Not only are you able to more easily remove rendered fat, but the short rib meat becomes even more tender after it cools then re-heats.
Cook Galbi Jjim as directed by the recipe, then follow these steps to store in refrigerator for up to three days:
- Remove fully cooked short ribs and vegetables from the braising liquid in the pot to a storage container, cover and refrigerate.
- Strain braising liquid through sieve as directed into a tall, narrow storage container. Discard solid bits in sieve. Cover strained braising liquid and refrigerate overnight.
- The following day, all of the rendered fat from the short ribs will have risen to the top of the braising liquid and solidified. Using a fork or spoon, carefully lift off the solidified fat and discard in the trash. Do not discard the solid fat down the kitchen sink drain.
To re-heat Galbi Jjim, place the short ribs, vegetables and braising liquid in a pot, bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish and serve immediately.
How to Store Galbi Jjim
Refrigerator. You can keep Galbi Jjim in the refrigerator for 3 days. After the rendered fat has been discarded, you can store Galbi Jjim in the braising liquid. I like to use large mason jars with sealing plastic lids.
Freezer. You can freeze Galbi Jjim for about 3 months. After the rendered fat has been discarded, you can store Galbi Jjim in the braising liquid, which will keep the meat and vegetables from drying out. The way that works best for how I maintain my freezer is portioning Galbi Jjim directly into freezer-safe quart-sized bags, squeezing out all the air, sealing, and laying flat in the freezer until the Galbi Jjim freezes. Then I stand the bag or multiple bags up and line them up like thin books on a bookshelf. If you're looking to reduce single-use plastic, these are re-usable ziptop bags.
Ingredient Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few suggested substitutions for some of the slightly harder-to-find ingredients, as well as suggested additions, and variations. I have tried all of these and the family truly does love all of them!
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms for Fresh. If you want to use dried shiitake mushrooms, quickly rinse the dried shiitake mushrooms under running water to remove any dust or undesirable particles. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in clean, hot water for 30 minutes to 1 hour, while the short ribs are braising. Save the soaking liquid, and use this later to add to the pot if the liquid level gets low.
Pears or Other Fruit. If you can't find Asian or Korean pears, you can use regular pear. If pears are out of season, use 1 cup chopped kiwi, which has similar compounds that can naturally tenderize meat.
No Tamari. Substitute with regular soy sauce. Regular soy sauce has wheat, and therefore, contains gluten.
No Mirim/Mirin. Substitute with sake, Japanese rice wine, in the equivalent amount. If you don't want to use alcohol, you can leave this out completely.
Suggested Additions and Variations
Different starchy vegetables: Add 1-2 cups of any of the following vegetables along with carrots and daikon to Galbi Jjim: Yukon gold or other waxy potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut or kabocha squash.
Leafy green vegetables: When there is about 10 minutes left of cooking time, stir baby bok choy, whole leaf spinach, or other leafy greens into the braising liquid until wilted.
Traditional Korean ingredients: If you want to go very traditional, add: peeled chestnuts, jujubes aka Korean died red dates, gingko nuts, and garnish with toasted pine nuts.
Add tteok, Korean rice cakes: Soak the rice cakes in cold water while the short ribs are braising. Stir into the Galbi Jjim about 10 minutes before the dish is complete. They are ready when you taste one and it is soft and sticky/chewy.
Add dang-myun, Korean-style glass or cellophane noodles made from mung bean starch or sweet potato starch. Soak dang-myun in cold water while short ribs braise. Stir into pot when there is about 5 minutes of cooking time left.
Top with cheese: This is a relatively new "thing," that's a little gimmicky to me. It's fun to experience at a restaurant, but I personally don't like cheese on any of my Korean food. If you do want to do this, plate your galbi jjim in an oven-safe baking or casserole dish, top with shredded cheese, and place under the broiler on high for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and toasty!
Tools and Equipment
- Dutch Oven. This is the large, oval Dutch oven I use for braising.
- Stock Pot: If you want a slightly lighter weight pot, I like this very large stock pot by this cookware company. It has a heavy bottom and easy-to-hold handles. Any large pot that fits the ingredients will do.
- Slow Cooker: I have this 6-quart programmable slow cooker. If you are going to use a slow-cooker, I highly recommend getting/using a slow-cooker that has a timer or auto-shut-off so you can truly "set it, and forget it," which is kind of the point of a slow-cooker, imho.
- Stainless steel tongs
- Large bowls, one that fits within the other. I use both stainless steel and glass mixing bowls.
- Quart sized mason jars
- Plastic sealing lids for jars. Get rid of those annoying two-piece metal lids that come with mason jars (unless you're doing actual canning) and get wide-mouth lids for the larger jars, and wide-mouth smaller jars
- Plastic storage containers: I keep a decent supply of these plastic quart (32 ounces) containers for any- and everything. The containers are technically "disposable," but they can be used a few times with hand-washing between uses. The best thing, though, is freezer-safe glass. Always make sure the stock is cool before pouring into any type of storage container.
- Large format ice cube trays. If you plan to make and freeze bone borth for the rest of your life, these "souper cube" trays specifically dedicated to broths and soups are great to have.
What to Serve with Galbi Jjim
Galbi Jjim is technically a one-pot meal, so you don't necessairly need anything else to serve and eat with it. However, it wouldn't be a Korean dish if you didn't serve fluffy steamed white rice and some kind of kimchi along with it. Here are a few more side dish suggestions to serve with Galbi Jjim:
- Oi Muchim, Korean Spicy Cucumbers
- Spicy Cucumber Salad with Avocado
- Din Tai Fung Dupe Cucumbers
- Korean Sesame Spinach
Where to Get Best Restaurant Galbi Jjim in Los Angeles
Galbi Jjim is a traditional Korean dish, and though it was typically served only on New Year's Day, you can actually find great Galbi Jjim on Korean restaurant menus available all the time. Here are some of the best:
- Sun Nong Dan, classic and modern Korean food, is probably one of the most well-known restaurants for galbi jjim, specifically for their Spicy Galbi Jjim that's dotted with chewy rice cakes tteok, blanketed with cheese, and lit up with a blow-torch to melt the cheese. Bonus: the restaurant is open 24 hours!
- Seong Buk Dong, a hole-in-the-wall traditional Korean restaurant that serves homestyle classics, including galbi jjim, which I've tried and love.
- Jun Won, an OG traditional Korean hole-in-the-wall restaurant that closed during the covid pandemic, re-opened as Jun Won Dak with a re-imagined menu that focuses on chicken. However, old favorite galbi jjim is still on the menu and is great. address and phone: 4254 ½ W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90020 (213) 263-9135
Old recipes for galbi jjim start with an instruction to soak the short ribs in cold water for a few hours, up to overnight, changing out the water for fresh water every 30 minutes. The reason for this step was to extract the red "bloody" juices and game-y flavor from the meat. This may have been necessary a long time ago when meat might not have been as fresh or not quite as high in quality. However, these days, we're using fresher, higher quality meat so we don't need to soak the short ribs.
Use English cut short ribs for Galbi Jjim.
Flanken, or cross-cut short ribs are not recommended for Galbi Jjim. Flanken cut short ribs are too thin to braise low and slow on the stovetop.
I generally estimate ½ to ¾ pound of short ribs with the bone per person. Assuming that the short ribs are served with some of the braised vegetables, this will also leave some leftovers!
More Korean Main Dishes
Galbi Jjim, Korean Braised Short Ribs Recipe
- 5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 medium Asian pear, peeled grated
- 5 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger grated
- 1 large onion, half onion grated, half onion sliced in ½-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
- 1 Korean or daikon radish sliced into 1-inch rounds
- 4-6 large shiitake mushrooms
- 2 green onions
- for garnish: roasted sesame seeds, 2-4 tablespoons sesame oil
Pre-boil the Short Ribs: Cook Time 10 Minutes
- Trim fat from 5 pounds beef short ribs and rinse under cold water. Place short ribs in large pot, fill pot with cold water to just cover the ribs.
- Bring the ribs and water to a rolling boil, then boil for 5 minutes. This step knocks out the rest of the short rib bone and marrow "gunk."
- While the short ribs are pre-boiling, combine ½ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons mirin, Asian pear, ½ grated onion, minced garlic, ginger, and black pepper in a blender or food processor.
- Remove the short ribs from the boiling water and rinse each one under cold running water. Strain the boiling water through a fine mesh sieve, saving the "flash broth."
- Wipe out the pot.
Braise Short Ribs: Cook Time ~ 1½-2 hours
- Return the short ribs to the pot along with the braising liquid from the blender. Bring short ribs to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Every once in a while, ladle some of the braising liquid over the top of the ribs.
- After 1 hour, add to the pot: 3-4 peeled carrots cut into 2" pieces, daikon radish cut into 1-inch cubes, sliced onion, and shiitake mushrooms.
- Bring contents of pot to a boil again, then reduce heat to low and simmer everything for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the meat is tender. You can check this by sticking a chopstick or fork into the meat.
- Serve with an extra little drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and sliced scallions.
Every morning, the alarm – sometimes set in vain, sometimes forgotten to be set at all – never rang. The clock would only ever go off in my imagination because really, I never slept all the way through the night. I never even gave my alarm clock a chance. Hours before any other normal person would wake to a noxious beeping, I exploded out of the last traces of an always restless slumber. Wild-eyed and confused under a blindfold, I was the picture of insanity, fighting, but failing, to escape the jacket.
Only in my nightmare was I mistaken for a lunatic, captured, wrapped and strapped in asylum white. Awake. Sitting bolt upright. I had to unravel myself from pristine white way-too-expensive 800-thread-count sheets that were twisted into chains. No blindfold, but I was doing it blindly. Always, it was darkest in the pre-dawn. Almost always, I fell asleep against my blogging will so eyes are coated with mucus and contact lenses are glued, like yesterday’s steamed white rice in the unwashed cooker, to the inside of my upper eyelids.
In other words, I couldn’t see a fucking a thing.
“Baby, they’ve been waiting for you.”
Almost every morning, I said it – sometimes out loud, sometimes whispered inside my head – “Baby, they've been waiting for you." I did. I don't know who "they" are, nor do I have a real sense of why I would say this, but at the very least I did know that "Baby" referred to me.
Yes, I called myself “Baby.”
Yes, Baby, I know I’m crazy.
It’s what I’d been saying for a while. A way to pump myself up. Psyche myself into excitement. Internally cheer for myself with that little boost of confidence that didn’t really exist. I knew that at some point in my life, maybe not by the time I graduated college, maybe not by the age of 30, but at some point, I would be able to tell myself that the world has been waiting for me.
For the previous year, I had mistaken “they” for a job that toward the end, was killing my soul. I was grateful when the opportunity first arose. I was intrigued by the concept, then fell in love with the promise of revolutionizing the world. The bitter MBA I thought I had neatly tucked away in my past was unfolding to reveal a future career so perfect that I thought it couldn’t possibly exist. It existed as marketing on the social web. “Baby,” I told myself, “they – this concept, this dynamic company, this perfect job – they have been waiting for you to come and change the world (wide web).” I blindly gave my entire life to it, saving only a tiny corner for the personal passions that without which, I would die.
Perhaps things were not what they seemed. Maybe it was just the natural evolution of a job. The beauty of my work was decomposing into a fetid mess, an unnatural mix of extraordinary performance pressure, personal (or rather, personnel) drama, and boredom. I had no joy.
Yet, I couldn’t let go.
I knew I was unhappy. I could feel the stress breaking me, but something inside wouldn’t let me walk away. Many nights, I would leave the office close to midnight, trying to identify the internal force that was so strong it could stand up to friends and family who were encouraging me to move on, so powerful that it wouldn’t dissolve in a flood of tears. It wasn’t money; it wasn’t personal relationships; it wasn’t even pride.
I had actually known all along, but didn’t want to admit it.
It was fear.
One of the most powerful motivating factors in life is fear, and though I wanted to believe that I was always motivated by more positive things, somewhere I had opened up my life to fear and allowed it to wrap its ugly barbed tentacles around my soul. Fear squeezed my soul until all the peace bled out of it, leaving nothing but a hollow box that echoed with pessimism.
What if I never find a job with this kind of (non)commute, pseudo-flexibility and perceived benefits?
What if I don’t even find another job?
If I can’t afford my rent?
If I can’t afford anything?
What if my family is disappointed?
"What if...?" beat my passion down into an unidentifiable pulp.
I was afraid of uncertain future. Not knowing Tomorrow gave me laser-focus on the security of the job I had RightNow.
Some time in the Spring of 2007 – I don’t know how or why – whatever blindfold of fear that I had pulled tight across my plastic surgically enhanced eyes momentarily slipped off. I broke free. Almost. I almost rescued what was left of a soul that had shriveled into a vodka-soaked pickle. “They” reacted quickly to my attempted escape, though, and upwardly heaved armfuls of money in my direction. The money fell like a blinding snowstorm, and when the air finally settled, I let two little dollar signs staple both eyes closed. Again, I was fettered to my laptop, imprisoned in darkness the radius of a wi-fi connection, furiously fighting to keep up with work that was coming at me at the speed of the Internet.
My eyes were closed so I wouldn't have to look at myself, at what I had let myself become, but they weren't closed so tightly that they didn’t let fall a tear or two. Or three. All through the summer and into autumn, I was re-living that scenario in the first paragraph every morning.
Months after going back, I finally admitted to myself out loud what I tried to keep silent under a weak shell of “success.” Though I knew the industry inside and out, though I knew our product would be the one to breakthrough, though I knew the function in which I was working was the perfect 100% utilization of my natural talent, education, and passion, I knew I was in the wrong place. I didn’t belong.
They weren’t the “they” who have been waiting for me.
On December 21, 2007, I gave notice. Again. For real. Seriously.
I didn’t have another perfectly MBA-meets-social-web job lined up; I didn’t even have a job search in process. The future was more than uncertain. It made “notice” one of the hardest and scariest things I’d had to do in a very long time.
It was also one of the most invigorating.
After work that day I quit-quit, I drove the long way home along the ocean. I couldn’t see the water in the winter’s early darkness, but I knew it was there. I got home, toasted myself with a congratulatory glass of Champagne that was already chilling in the refrigerator, spent four long-overdue hours in the kitchen braising short ribs, researched recipes, flipped through fashion magazines, and blogged my joyful little heart out.
"Baby, they’ve been waiting for you."
And yes, though slightly disheveled, wild-eyed, and totally terrified, I had finally arrived.
My whole life up until that day I quit, I had been allowing fear to drive almost all of my big (and even little) decisions. Sound pretty familiar, right? Like nothing has really changed in the last six years, right? Granted, I didn't pop into a telephone booth that fateful day six years ago and emerge moments later a fearless superhero. I've been I've been living (and working) the life that I should have had from the beginning and though I am nowhere near the strong, brave warrior soul you read about in novels and poems and MindBodyGreen blog posts, I have been working toward it in bits and pieces, in stops and starts, for the last six years.
Or rather, the last six years up until about five months ago.
I don't know exactly how long it had been before that, but about five months ago, I actually realized that I had opened the door and let fear and unhappiness creep back into my life. Sure, I had never completely eradicated them, no one ever does, but I had been making progress, albeit slowly, all along. Progress had slowed down, stopped, and reversed.
I couldn't eat for fear of food poisoning; couldn't cook for fear of failure.; couldn't go out for fear of contracting communicable diseases; couldn't sleep for fear of nightmares about spiders; couldn't make the littlest decisions about what to order from Chinese takeout, if I had even gotten to the point of deciding on Chinese over Thai, Pizza, and Indian, let alone make big decisions about a new car, where to live, buying a house or renting, about LIFE. I couldn't work for fear of failure, not being able to produce made me unhappy, but I was too afraid to make any change that would jeopardize the sweet security of a monthly revenue check.
No, no, I am not about to quit my "job" with TasteSpotting. I am not about to "quit" blogging on The Delicious Life. But I decided to do something this week that exists in the same realm of dramatic, somewhat drastic, and totally scary LIFE decisions. Right afterward, I braised shortribs. I do not know if it is coincidence that this is the third time in the last six years I have braised shortribs, all three times in the context of (overcoming) fear.
I stopped myself before starting though. What if this recipe is flawed? If the pot is too big? Or the meat is bad? What if I can't afford my rent? If I can't afford anything? What if I have to go back to a corporate job? What if I can't even get a job?
Worst of all, what if I disappoint my family?
I don't have a real plan; just an idea, a lot of passion, and even more to lose. I am fucking terrified.
The galbi jjim was to die for.