What Is Karubi Beef? A Detailed Guide

Are you a fan of Japanese cuisine? If so, you’ve probably heard of karubi beef.

This popular cut of beef is a staple in yakiniku, a Japanese style of grilling meat. But what exactly is karubi beef, and why is it so beloved by foodies around the world?

In this article, we’ll explore the origins and characteristics of karubi beef, as well as some tips for cooking and enjoying it.

Get ready to salivate as we dive into the delicious world of karubi beef!

What Is Karubi Beef?

Karubi beef, also known as boneless short rib or flanken-cut rib, is a cut of beef that comes from the abdominal area of the cow. It is highly prized for its tenderness and juiciness, as well as its heavy marbling.

Karubi beef is a popular choice for yakiniku, a Japanese style of grilling meat at the table. The meat is typically sliced thinly and grilled quickly over high heat, resulting in a deliciously caramelized exterior and a tender, juicy interior.

The Origins Of Karubi Beef

The origins of karubi beef can be traced back to Korea, where it is known as galbi. This cut of beef was traditionally used in Korean cuisine and was often marinated in a sweet and savory sauce before being grilled.

In Japan, karubi beef became popular in the post-World War II era, when American soldiers introduced the cut to Japanese cuisine. The Japanese adapted the Korean-style grilling method and added their own unique flavors and techniques to create a new culinary experience.

Today, karubi beef is widely enjoyed in Japan and around the world for its rich flavor and tenderness. It is typically sourced from high-quality breeds of cattle, such as Wagyu or Angus, and is often aged for several weeks to enhance its flavor and texture.

In recent years, karubi beef has gained a reputation as a premium cut of meat, with some restaurants offering rare and exclusive varieties that are highly sought after by food enthusiasts. Its versatility and delicious flavor make it a popular choice for a wide range of dishes, from traditional yakiniku to gourmet steak dinners.

Characteristics Of Karubi Beef

Karubi beef is known for its rich flavor and high marbling. It is sourced from the ventral section of the ribs, which is why many of the cuts near the ribs have “bara” in their name. The meat is taken from the half of the outer ribs that’s closer to the upper foreleg, and some yakiniku restaurants may separate the cuts by naming them as karubi, jo karubi, and tokujo karubi.

Karubi beef is characterized by a slight sweetness and a rich umami flavor. It is a very tender cut of meat that can be cooked to medium rare or rare without losing its tenderness. The best way to cook it is to grill it to medium, with caramelized fat, as this brings out its strong flavor. It goes well with a thick, sweet sauce or soy sauce with wasabi.

Another popular cut of Karubi beef is rib finger, which is taken from in-between individual ribs. This cut has both meat and fat loaded with an incredible amount of rich umami, making it a popular menu item at many restaurants. The best way to enjoy rib finger is grilled to medium doneness, heavily seared and melted off any excess fat to make it easier to eat. It goes well with a sweet sauce or gochujang (sweet and spicy Korean red chili paste).

Kainomi, also known as flap meat, is another popular cut of Karubi beef. It has the umami and tenderness of both ribs and tenderloin and has an excellent flavor balance between lean meat and fat. It is very tender and should be cooked to medium rare or rare enough that it doesn’t lose its tenderness. It can be enjoyed with any type of condiment, such as sweet sauce, soy sauce with wasabi, and salt and pepper.

Different Cuts Of Karubi Beef

There are several different cuts of karubi beef that you may come across at yakiniku restaurants or butcher shops. Each cut has its own unique flavor profile and texture, making it important to understand the differences between them in order to choose the best one for your needs.

1. Nami Karubi / Tatebara (Boneless Short Ribs): This cut of karubi beef is taken from the outer ribs that are closer to the upper foreleg. It is rich in flavor and has a slight sweetness to it. The best way to cook this cut is to grill it to a medium doneness, allowing the fat to caramelize and enhance the flavor. It is typically served with a thick, sweet sauce.

2. Nakaochi Karubi (Rib Finger): This cut of karubi beef is taken from in-between individual ribs and is loaded with rich umami flavor. It is best grilled to a medium doneness, with excess fat melted off for easier eating. This cut is often served with a sweet sauce or seasoned with gochujang (sweet and spicy Korean red chili paste).

3. Kainomi (Flap Meat): This rare cut of karubi beef comes from the section of the ribs closest to the back, near the tenderloin. It has an excellent flavor balance between lean meat and fat and is very tender. It is best cooked to medium rare or rare, and can be enjoyed with any type of condiment such as sweet sauce, soy sauce with wasabi, or salt and pepper.

4. Harami (Skirt Steak): This cut of karubi beef comes from the transverse abdominal muscle near the diaphragm. It has lots of umami flavor and is best served rare for maximum tenderness. It can be lightly seared over high heat and enjoyed with a simple combination of soy sauce and wasabi or a sweet sauce.

Understanding the differences between these cuts of karubi beef can help you choose the perfect one for your next yakiniku meal or home-cooked dish.

How To Cook Karubi Beef

Cooking karubi beef is a simple and easy process that can be done in a variety of ways. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Marinate the beef: Before cooking, it is recommended to marinate the karubi beef to enhance its flavor. A popular marinade for karubi beef is a mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and garlic. Let the beef marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Heat up the grill or pan: Preheat your grill or pan to medium-high heat.

3. Cook the beef: Once the grill or pan is heated, add the marinated karubi beef slices and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are well-seared and caramelized.

4. Rest the beef: Once cooked, remove the karubi beef from the grill or pan and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful dish.

5. Serve and enjoy: Karubi beef can be served on its own as a main dish or as a topping for rice bowls. Garnish with chopped scallions or sesame seeds for added flavor and texture.

Pairing Karubi Beef With Sides And Sauces

When it comes to enjoying karubi beef, there are several sides and sauces that pair perfectly with this flavorful cut of meat. Here are some suggestions:

1. Lettuce Wraps: Fresh lettuce leaves make the perfect vessel for wrapping up slices of grilled karubi beef. The crispness of the lettuce provides a nice contrast to the tender meat, and it adds a refreshing element to the dish.

2. Steamed Rice: A bowl of steaming hot rice is a classic accompaniment to yakiniku. The mild flavor of the rice helps to balance out the rich, savory flavors of the beef.

3. Edamame: These boiled soybeans make a great snack or side dish for yakiniku. They have a slightly salty flavor that complements the beef nicely.

4. Yakiniku Sauce: This sweet and savory sauce is a must-have for any yakiniku meal. It’s made with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and other seasonings, and it adds a delicious depth of flavor to the beef.

5. Fruit Sauces: Surprisingly, fruit sauces can work well with karubi beef. Cherry balsamic grilling sauce, peach grilling sauce or peach chipotle sauce, vidalia onion and peach hot sauce, and roasted raspberry chipotle sauce are all great options to try.

No matter what sides and sauces you choose to pair with your karubi beef, you’re sure to enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal.