Maui Style Kalbi Ribs

How is it even March? Is anyone else freaking out that Daylight Savings is right around the corner? Goodness gracious this year is just blowing by and I couldn't let another day pass without kicking off this series: Local Provisions! It's a series that is near and dear to my heart because it's all about local food... from Hawaii. It encompasses everything from chicken katsu to loco moco and spam musubis to kalbi ribs and meat jun. It's as much kalua pig and poke as it is saimin and huli huli chicken. These are a handful of the dishes I grew up with and I look forward to sharing them with all of you (and yes, I've already shared a few).

When I was younger, trips to Kihei (the South side of the island of Maui) meant we were doing one of the following three things: going hula practice and/or performance, heading to the beach, or hanging with the Youngs (close family friends). It also meant that there was a good chance mom was picking up Akeka's ribs for dinner, which made hula practice way more enticing than it would have been. If you've never had or heard of Akeka's ribs, I'm in shock but let me tell you about them. They are the most addicting kalbi short ribs on the planet and I think it has something to do with their sweetness. They're pretty darn sweet. And garlicky, and gingery, and straight up delicious. They also remind me of my childhood and boy do I feel lucky about that. However, Azeka's is no longer around (they closed a few years back) and since they never shared their secret family recipe, I've been craving Azeka's ribs for a while now. Which is why, I finally broke down and made some for myself. 

These ribs are not as sweet as the Azeka's ribs of my childhood were, but that doesn't mean they aren't good. I think they're the perfect amount of sweetness for me, but obviously, feel free to add or cut the amount of sugar as you see fit. I strongly recommend you grill or bbq these ribs--they're best with a little char. I also suggest you resist the urge to cut the marinating time. Trust me when I say that you want your meat to soak up all that good sauce :D. Also, these ribs are cross-cut, flanken style ribs not baby back ribs or traditional American short ribs. If you're having trouble finding them, you can tell your butcher you're looking for flanken cut or Korean cut short ribs and s/he should know what you're talking about. The only other thing I can think to add is that these ribs demand hot, white rice. They just need it! Feel free to serve it up with a green salad or even a potato/mac salad, but whatever you do, don't forget the rice!! Thanks for reading along with the first installment of Local Provisions. <3


Adapted from Food52
Serves 6, recipe can be halved


  • 6 lbs. beef short ribs, 1/2-inch thick flanken cut
  • 2 c. Aloha Shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 3 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 4-inch piece fresh ginger root, finely grated
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, finely grated
  • Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Sliced scallions, for garnish


  • Microplane grater
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • 3 gallon-sized Ziploc bags
  • Grill & tongs


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients, except the ribs.
  2. Divide the short ribs into three gallon-sized Ziploc bags and then pour 1/3 of the marinade into each bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the bags at least 3 times during the 24-hour marinating period.
  3. Heat grill to medium and cook ribs for 4-5 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with toasted white sesame seeds. 
  4. Serve with hot white rice and sliced scallions and enjoy!