Kalbi Ribs with Macadamia Nut Rice

I met my friend Lucy Lean through Diane & Todd a couple of years ago in Los Angeles. At that time, she was the Editor of Edible Los Angeles and we chatted for hours over bottles of red wine and plates of cheese and charcuterie. It turns out, Lucy has 2 kids around the same age as mine and on our next trip out to L.A., we brought the kiddies out to a massive children’s park near Griffith Park.

As the kids went all crazy on the playground, Lucy and I sat on a nearby bench, straining our eyes to catch up with each of our kids, as they were darting from here to there to who knows where. Imagine 8 different play structures, 50 little kids, and probably 29 pounds of sugar running through their veins.

It’s pretty tough to hold decent conversation whilst trying to make sure your children don’t beat up on another kid, try to take cutsies or wander off. But Lucy and I did manage to have one very important conversation that afternoon:

Lucy: I think I want to start a blog, what do you think?

Me: Sure! That’s a great idea! Do you have a name for it? What do you want to write about?

Lucy: I have the perfect name – Ladles & Jellyspoons, you know, like Ladies & Gentleman, but cuter. Oh, and food related. But I don’t know…..I don’t know if I could do it.

Me: Lucy! That’s a fab name for a blog! Did you get the URL for it already? 

Lucy: No, not yet. I don’t even know how to use WordPress or anything. Well, maybe I’ll ask Didier (her husband) to help me when I get home. Maybe.

Me: Sweetheart, listen to me. That URL could be taken If you don’t buy the name like *right now* I’m going buy it and then sell it back to you for 10x the price! (as I’m logging into my GoDaddy account on my phone). It’s now or never, baby!

So *of course* she bought it. I’m can be pushy like that LOL! Lucy launched Ladles & Jellyspoons, cooking with chefs past, present and future blog and a little while later snagged a book deal to write a book called Made in America: Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food and is now a casting judge for Master Chef television show.

Wow, right!? She’s amazing. Here’s a recipe we chose to share with you from the brand new book! ~Jaden


Merriman’s has been the destination restaurant in Waimea on the Big Island since it opened in 1988. The Los Angeles Times named chef and owner Peter Merriman “The Pied Piper of Hawaii regional cuisine,” and he’s proud of showcasing local ingredients on his menu.
There are toasted Hawaiian macadamia nuts in the jasmine rice for extra texture and flavor, a good example of how he integrates ingredients to present them at their best. Originally, he sourced local produce simply because it tasted better, encouraging farmers to cultivate varieties never before grown on the island.
With the creation of Hawaii regional cuisine, many local farmers and ranchers are now providing Merriman with a vast array of ingredients—from fresh organic mushrooms and greens to award-winning goat cheese and free-range, hormone-free lamb and beef. All find their way onto Merriman’s extensive menu with 90 percent of the ingredients from Hawaii.
Merriman also grows a lot of his own herbs, fruits, and vegetables for the restaurant in a little kitchen garden that the dining room overlooks. A couple of tomatoes cling to a drying vine from a season long since over in the rest of America; a large bunch of bananas are about to ripen; black sugarcane stands tall; and tiny, bright, super hot red peppers dot a low bush.
Merriman shows off the abundance, bending to smell an herb and happy to share his stories. “These are all canoe crops,” he tells me. “Brought to Hawaii hundreds of years ago. The only indigenous species are coconuts and kukui nuts [their oil is used as the fuel in tiki lamps].” ~Lucy Lean
Her book is available on Amazon here, Made in America: Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food!


Kalbi Ribs with Macadamia Nut Rice

Servings: 4 - 6 servings Prep Time: 8 hours Cook Time: 15 minutes
Kalbi Ribs with Macadamia Nut Rice Recipe1

This Korean twist on the American classic comfort food, short ribs, is supereasy and quick,” says Merriman. “It’s also a guys’ recipe. It should be cooked outside on the grill. It goes great with a beer.

Recipe copyright Peter Merriman


1 jumbo onion
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
2 cups low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 pounds 1/2-inch-cut beef short ribs, use prime or choice corn-fed beef (you need the fat)
12 ounces jasmine rice
2 tablespoons garlic butter
1/2 cup chopped toasted macadamia nuts
1/2 cup chopped scallions


1. Purée the onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a food processor. Pour over ribs and marinate for 8 hours.
2. rinse the rice in a sieve under cold water, place in a small saucepan, and pour in enough water to cover rice and come to 1 inch above it. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 15 minutes without opening the lid.
3. Grill the ribs over charcoal until medium rare.
4. Serve on jasmine rice tossed with garlic butter, toasted macadamia nuts, and chopped scallions.

Chef Merriman’s Tip
“Half-inch pieces of beef absorb the marinade better, stay more tender, and cook more evenly—so have your butcher cut them down.”

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Comments 25

  1. LucyLean

    Thanks Jaden – for the never ending generosity and for pushing me into this wonderful world of food blogging – would you really have charged me 10x ?!

  2. JulieD

    I love this and I love the story. I love what a great friend you and what an awesome motivator you are. You bring people up and that’s what I love about you!

  3. Kim Bee

    Great story of friendship and lovely recipe. I particularly love the part where you got pushy, very funny. I may attempt making this one. Have a nice Hawaii themed evening. Loved the food when we were there.

  4. Elizabeth @Mango_Queen

    What an amazing recipe for short ribs! Love this! And of course, this is a must with lots of rice. Can’t wait to try it! I enjoyed the story about your pushing her to get a domain name. What a great friend she has in you, Jaden!

  5. Chris

    First of all, does she have the coolest cooking name ever? Lucy Lean?! That’s like those meteorologists named Dallas Storms or physicians named Dr. Payne.

    The rib recipe looks excellent. Then again I’m a sucker for anything from Waimea since it offers some of the most vicious big wave surf around. Jasmine rice always makes me think of Thai foods but when you add in the macadamia nut and treat it this way, it totally makes sense as Polynesian.

  6. Kim in MD

    Great post! This recipe looks amazing, and I love Lucy’s name and her blog name! So cute! 🙂

  7. Monica S

    Although I am watching my family’s cholesterol, this recipe from Hawaii looked too good to pass up. After reading the recipe, I could tell this was going to be a challenge because I was going to have to get the butcher to do some cutting, which he did, but not to my specification. So, there I was with my big knife and husband’s hammer chopping away at home. The next big trick was grilling little pieces of meat. For some reason, I thought it was going to be easier if I skewered the smaller pieces of meat and cook it like a shish kabob. In the end, I don’t think it was necessary and could have easily cooked it without the stick. As for the taste, of course it was great, but next time I will use Aloha soy sauce or a low-sodium soy sauce like the recipe suggested! While rib meat is tasty, fatty, and traditional for Kalbi, the bones are cumbersome and I may employ boneless meat next time. Thanks for a recipe that was fun to try and eat.

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  9. cat @ neohomesteading.com

    So yummy! I’ve made a recipe similar to this. My family actually prefers short ribs “korean style” the acidity and spice cuts the fatty flavor that they find overwhelming with traditional braised short ribs. So rich and delicious! I will have to try using soy sauce like this! (Usually I use mostly rice vinegar)

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  12. Aaron

    I enjoyed this recipe! Bing a guy who doesn’t cook meals like this often, I did find it pretty easy. I used farm fresh Hawaii Macadamia Nuts from a local farm here in Hawaii, and fresh cut ribs. Great post, and great recipe! Mahalo.

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