Chef Ilona Daniel’s Korean-Style Braised Beef Cheeks with Kimchi Pancake

As I mentioned when I introduced you to Chef Ilona Daniel, I’ve been eagerly awaiting her dish since August. When it arrived I couldn’t wait to start cooking.

The finished dish was fantastic.  A great introduction to the flavours of Korean cuisine and wonderful for those of us who know and love them.

While we are very comfortable with the flavours and most of the techniques in Ilona’s dish, I was pretty nervous about making it right.  This was the first time we had a guest, Zach Bussey, coming over for the meal (more on that below), and I wanted to showcase Ilona’s recipe and Canadian Beer properly.

I shouldn’t have worried. Ilona’s instructions below are very clear and incredibly easy since most of the work is done by fermenting, marinating and braising. Essentially, I put ingredients together, poured a glass of wine and waited for the magic to happen.

I was excited to see homemade kimchi as one of the elements of the dish. I’d never made kimchi before and have always been a little intimidated by it. I shouldn’t have been, at least not with this recipe.  Slice, dice, mix, ferment.  The hardest thing was waiting for it to ferment because it smelled so good fresh!

The beef came out subtle, rich and incredibly tender. The marinade / braising liquid was fragrant and flavourful,  and the resulting sauce highlighted rather than overpowered the flavour of the beef.

The pancake confused us at first. Would it be like a flap-jack? Like a crepe?  It was almost cake-like, moist, thick and had the kimchi flavours infused throughout with great texture. It was also fun adding the soda to the batter and watching it almost double in volume.

Each component of the dish added an extra layer  with such subtlety that it was like a primer for Korean flavours. Perfect to serve to someone not familiar with some of the more challenging Korean flavours  like spicy fermented cabbage. If you already love those flavours you are in for a treat because it’s easy to add an extra spoonful of kimchi, a bit more sauce, and another couple of radishes to kick things up a notch or three.

We served the dish with both red wine (for me) and a Lake of Bays Pale Ale (for Gerry & Zach).

A couple of quick notes before you get into the recipe:

  • This recipe, all steps included, takes a number of DAYS. The kimchi can take 2-3 days itself and the beef needs to marinate for at least 8 hours. Don’t forget to give yourself time!  Though I’m sure if push came to shove you could use purchased kimchi, it’s much less fun!
  • Our kimchi did not bubble after 2 days, not after 3 days either. So on the 4th day I cooked with it and shoved most of it into the fridge. I’ve left a small contain out on the counter to see how long until it does bubble. It is supposed to be fermented after all, how can it go wrong?
  • I did remove the silverskin, but I didn’t fully trim all the layers of fat in the beef cheeks, at least not how I’d define “fully trim”, since I did that last time and it took me a couple of hours (see next note).  It worked just fine and the beef turned almost spreadable tender.
  • The radish is a perfect Valentine’s Day garnish!  A pretty pink and if you slice from root to stem, and then do a little gentle trimming you can get a perfect heart shape.
  • Note to Ilona: I did screw up a bit because I went to a party the night before I served this dish and didn’t get the beef marinating until the morning.  It got only 6 hours and was still fantastic, and I can’t wait to try again with the full 12!   Oh, and you were NOT kidding about the soda in the pancake, that was incredible!  And the texture of the pancake was divine!

Chef Ilona Daniel’s Korean-Style Braised Beef Cheeks with Kimchi Pancake

Chef Ilona's Korean-Style Kimchi

Chef Ilona's Korean-Style Kimchi

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 2 days 2 hours
Total Time: 2 days 2 hours 40 minutes

There are many variations of this pungent fermented pickle, some are uber-spicy, some contain chopped squid, grated apple or carrots. This is my vegan version of the Korean classic.  Chef Ilona Daniel


  • 1 lg head of Napa Cabbage, cored and cut into 1” pieces (roughly 8 cups)
  • 4 L Boiling Water
  • ½ cup Kosher Salt
  • 3 green onions sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled, and julienne
  • ½ cup Cilantro, chopped (stems work well here)
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Flakes (Korean Kimchi Pepper is the best choice, but use what you have)
  • ¼ cup Sriracha Hot Pepper Sauce (you can use as much heat as per your palette's preference)
  • 3 Tbsp Wheat Free Soy Sauce/Tamari


  1. Place the cabbage, boiling water and salt in a non-reactive container large enough to hold all the above ingredients.
  2. Ensure that the cabbage is submerged; Use a plate to help with this if needed.
  3. Leave cabbage for 2 hours.
  4. After 2 hours, drain, and squeeze cabbage of excess water. Place cabbage in a bowl, and add the remaining ingredients.
  5. Stir ingredients to combine.
  6. Pack cabbage mixture into a non-reactive container (glass jar, or tupperware), and place lid on tightly.
  7. Store in a cool place for 2 days.
  8. To check if Kimchi is ready on the second day, look for bubbles. If there are none, place lid back on top the container. And leave it for another full day.
  9. Once kimchi is ready, store kimchi in the fridge.


Chef Ilona’s Note:   I recommend you consume the kimchi within 3 weeks.

Chef Ilona Daniel's Korean-Style Braised Beef Cheeks

Chef Ilona Daniel's Korean-Style Braised Beef Cheeks

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Additional Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 47 minutes

This dish is my interpretation of Korean Braised Short Ribs “Galbi Jim”. The tender cheeks are sliced and served with a quick stir-fry of julienned carrots and bean sprouts, a wedge of Kimchi Pancake, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, and Radish Pickle. Make a double batch of this recipe if you have room in your freezer! – Chef Ilona Daniel


  • 5 Lbs Beef Cheek
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Water
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp cold water


  • ½ Bunch Cilantro, Chopped
  • 2-4 Tbsp Chopped Ginger
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Japanese rice wine (mirin)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil


Clean all fat, and tough silverskin from the beef cheeks. You should end up with at the very least 3 lbs of cleaned meat.

In a non-reactive roasting pan/glass/plastic container, place cheeks and the remainder of marinade ingredients (cilantro, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, mirin, garlic, onion, scallions and sesame oil).

Allow cheeks to marinate for 8-12 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 275

Remove cheeks from marinade (reserve marinade), and pat dry.

Brown cheeks in oil over medium-high heat on both sides.

Return beef cheeks to roasting pan with the marinade.

Cover cheeks with enough water to cover cheeks as needed. There shouldn’t be excess space in the pan- It should just accommodate the beef cheeks.

Cover tightly and place in the oven.

Cook for 3 hours or until the cheeks are very tender.

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Remove cheeks and slice.

Thicken braising liquid with 1 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp cold water (combined in a bowl), then slowly stir cornstarch slurry into braising liquid.

Bring liquid to a boil.

Return cheeks, and reduce heat to medium.

Heat cheeks gently, and serve.

Kimchi Pancake - Kimchijeon

Kimchi Pancake - Kimchijeon

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

This is my riff on the traditional “Kimchijeon”. It is a fusion of Korean Flavourings, and North American-style Pancakes. I use this as the starch component, with my Korean-Style Braised Beef Cheeks. This fluffier than the traditional version soaks up the rich sauce from the Beef Braising Liquid most gloriously. Soda water is the secret to a superior pancake.  – Chef Ilona Daniel


  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ½ cup Milk
  • ½ cup Soda Water
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Kimchi, finely chopped
  • 1-2 T vegetable shortening (or oil)



  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.
  3. Add wet ingredients, to the dry. Stir lightly to just combine the ingredients.
  4. In a non-stick skillet/cast iron pan large enough to accommodate the batter, add enough oil (I prefer to use vegetable shortening) to coat the bottom of the pan. There should be almost a cm of oil.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan (medium-hi heat).
  6. Allow a crust to begin to form, 2 minutes.
  7. Then immediately place the pan into the pre-heated oven.
  8. Cook pancake thoroughly, approximately 10-15 minutes.
  9. Once cooked, invert pancake onto a plate or cutting board, and slice into wedges.
  10. Serve immediately.
Quick Radish Pickle

Quick Radish Pickle

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

I like to use this pickle along with toasted sesame seeds, and chopped cilantro as a garnish for my Kimchi Pancake and Korean-Style Braised Beef Cheeks. This is ready in minutes and lasts up to a week. – Chef Ilona Daniel


  • 1 Cello package of radish (or 2 bunches)
  • 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar


    Slice radish into rounds or julienne (my preference).

    Place in a bowl, and add remaining ingredients.

    Allow to sit in the fridge to come together for a minimum of 15 minutes, or overnight.

    When left for a longer period of time, a bright pink cast is created, and makes for a very visually interesting garnish.


  • sauce the plate
  • place a wedge of kimchi pancake on top
  • put slices of beef on that
  • sauce gently
  • top with pickled radish and sesame seed
  • serve kimchi on the side for those who want to kick it up a bit and can’t keep their hands out of the kimchi.
  • serve extra pickled radish on the side for those who LOVE the pickled radish and start eating it before the plating is done.
  • serve extra sauce for those who want things saucier
  • serve extra beef because no one stopped at one serving.
Making Chef Ilona Daniel's Korean-style Braised Beef Cheeks

Amusing Note:

This month, I invited Zach Bussey over for our Chefs #LoveCDNBeef meal.  I’d been reading about his social experiment – A Sponsored Life – which I love both because of its compelling premise, – to live solely through sponsorship gleaned from social media; and because Zach has rolled Social Good into the core of the experiment.  However, I’d noticed he was talking a lot about food and wasn’t really eating all that well.  I thought since we were cooking a Canadian Beef sponsored meal, joining us for dinner might fit the criteria of the experiment.  So I asked, he accepted and in the nature of all adventure, I didn’t tell him what he’d be served beyond it being beef.

Of course, we had a little drama trying to get the Beef Cheeks, again. Beef Cheeks, as I mentioned before, are not always easy to get. They are a great price ($35 for 5lbs), but restaurants are snapping them up when they are available. This time the guys from Chantecler got into Sanagan’s just hours before me and cleaned them out! Luckily Cumbrae’s could order some for me in time (You need them at least a day early to do the 8-12hour marinate).

Lesson? Make sure your butcher can get you Beef Cheeks before you invite the guests! Trust me, it will reduce the stress!

Then, we found out when Zach arrived that his only exposure to Korean cuisine was Korean BBQ and he has never had kimchi.  That made me even more nervous!  What if he hated the whole meal just because funky cabbage wasn’t his thing.

Luckily, that didn’t seem to be a worry. Zach seemed to enjoy the meal.  And before the meal was over, he even tried the kimchi on its own. In fact, by mid-way through the meal, we were all reaching for a little extra kimchi, an extra slice of pancake, a little extra sauce, more of the pickled radish, and a bit more beef.  A good sign all around I think.

Learn More about Chef Ilona Daniel

Chef Ilona Daniel in Chef's Love Canadian Beef

Chefs #LoveCDNBeef on - Top Canadian Chefs share their recipes using Canadian Beef

Notethis post is part of my Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador series.  For more information on my relationship with Canada Beef Inc read about my Foodie Adventure: I’m a Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador. #LoveCdnBeefand my disclosure statement

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

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