Korean Barbecue Compound Butter

Our secret weapon to perfect steak
55 Ratings
100% would make again
Korean Barbecue Compound Butter Recipe
Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

Whether it's brown butter or coffee butter, we're all about taking our favorite fat and making it just a little bit better. Enter Louisville chef Ed Lee, who shared his recipe for kalbi butter, a compound butter that has all the flavors of classic Korean barbecue. A soy sauce-and-sugar reduction is streamed into soft butter laced with Korean chile flakes, garlic and scallions for a sweet, salty and fragrant condiment.

You can use this flavor bomb for just about anything. It's obviously perfect for topping your medium-rare rib eye, but don't stop at meat. Give roast vegetables a sweet and salty twist, or add some to your morning scrambled eggs for a punch of rich umami. Any which way you use it, just make sure you always have some in the fridge.

To learn more, read "Butter Believe It."

Kalbi Compound Butter

Recipe adapted from Ed Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY

Yield: 2½ cups

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time


6 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped

One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 pound butter, softened


1. In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, sugars and sesame oil. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes until thickened. Then let cool to room temperature.

2. In a food processor, add the chile flakes, garlic, scallions and ginger, and pulse until finely chopped. Add the softened butter and pulse until combined. With the motor running, stream in the cooled soy sauce until a smooth compound butter forms.

3. Using plastic wrap, roll the butter into a 1½-inch-thick log and chill until firm before slicing into rounds. Use as desired.

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