A traditional French preparation of beef short ribs is to braise them slowly in red wine for several hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. This is a variation on that theme that substitutes in the intensely sweet & savory flavor profile of Korean galbi while still maintaining the technique of the slow braise. The result is beef that is more flavorful than any French short rib, and more tender than any Korean barbecue meat. Braised short ribs can be made up to several days in advance and their flavor is even enhanced by doing so, making it an ideal main course for dinner guests. Because short ribs have been in vogue for some time now, butcher prices for this cut have risen substantially – feel free to substitute more inexpensive cuts of meat, ideally those with high amounts of connective tissue that can survive the long cooking time.
The philosophy here is that the physical manipulation of ingredients (i.e., the control of temperature & moisture via a braise) are largely independent of the actual flavoring of the dish (a braise can be done with red wine or rice wine), and that different permutations of dishes can arise from a knowledge-base of physical cooking techniques and flavor profiles. When learning from recipes, the ideal approach is to deconstruct it into these modular elements that can then be re-synthesized into creations of your own. This is a readily tapped source of creativity in cooking that does not require any skill.
BRAISED SHORT RIBS // SAKE + SOY
- 4-5 lbs English cut short ribs
- 1 bottle sake
- 1 bottle mirin (300 ml)
- ½ cup of sweetened soy sauce
- 1 medium chunk of ginger, coarsely chopped
- 1 white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, halved
- 3-4 sprigs of parsley, coarsely chopped
Working in batches, sear the beef on all sides in a very hot cast iron skillet. Set aside in a mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop one medium chunk of ginger and one onion, and halve or quarer 6-8 of cloves garlic. Using a small amount of vegetable oil or drippings from the seared short ribs, sweat the mirepoix over medium heat in a large dutch oven for several minutes.
Season the ribs with salt and pepper and place them in the dutch oven, over the bed of aromatics. Pour one bottle of sake, one small (300 ml) bottle of mirin, and ½ cup of sweetened soy sauce into the dutch oven. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately turn the heat down to low.
Simmer, with the cover cracked slightly open, for at least 4 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Check periodically to ensure the sauce does not come to a rolling boil.
Using metal tongs, remove the short ribs from the pot, attempting not to disturb the meat from the bone. Using a strainer and cheesecloth, strain the sauce into a mixing bowl to remove the aromatics and stray bones. Wash the dutch oven briefly and return the meat and sauce to the pot.
At this point, the dish can be served immediately. It is ideal though, to refrigerate the mixture overnight, using a spoon to remove the solidified fat that forms at the top of the sauce the next day. Before serving, reheat on low heat until the meat is warm and the sauce reconstituted, being careful not to bring the sauce to a boil. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with rice or potatoes.