Beef short ribs can be time consuming, and difficult to work with. Traditional, English-cut ribs tend to be long and thick, and are cut along the bone, so each portion includes a good deal of muscle, along with a portion of bone, fat, tendon and collagen. By necessity, English-style beef ribs are best when they’re cooked slow and low, to allow all of the aforementioned bits to slowly break down. The result is usually a tender, rich, and deeply flavorful dish, which has taken somewhere between four hours and a full day to create.
Side note: I made a large batch of sous-vide short ribs for our friends-giving feast this past November, and I can attest that the sixteen hour cook time is well worth it.
Luckily, for those of us who would rather do a bit of prep work, and then spend 10 minutes in front of a grill instead of a full day waiting for a meal, there are “Flanken” ribs. So named because they’re thin cut like a flank steak, flanken ribs are cut 1/2-inch thick across the bones. The end result are thin steaks about eight inches long and 2 inches wide, with four or five round chunks of rib bone in each. Even though they have roughly the same makeup as their thicker, English counterparts, flanken ribs only take a quick sear on a hot grill to achieve optimal tenderness. Couple that with a 24-hour bath in my new marinade, and you’ve got yourself a winner of a summertime recipe.
Ingredients (serves two people):
- 2 lbs flanken-style beef short ribs
- 1 Asian pear – peeled, cored and rough-chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled
- 2 tsp fresh garlic
- 2 tbsp gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
- 2 tbsp mirin (rice wine based sweetener)
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- Lime wedges
- Sesame noodle salad, or any other such side dish
In a food processor, puree all of the ingredients (besides the steak) listed above(from “Asian pear” to “salt and pepper”.
Place the strips of beef in a ziploc bag, or vessel of your choice, and cover them with the marinade. Let the beef marinate for at least four hours, but ideally overnight.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat your grill on high heat.
Remove the steaks from the marinade, and grill them on the hot grill (still over high heat) for 3-4 minutes on each side, until you get some nice grill marks, but the meat hasn’t burned.
Be careful not to overcook the meat. A few minutes on each side will give you some nice, thin, tender ribs, but overcooking will turn the meat rubbery and dry, and that’s just gross.
Remove the ribs from the grill, and let them rest for five minutes, which should give you just enough time to plate up some noodles, slice some limes, and crack a cold one. Serve them with a squeeze of lime for some extra acidity, and maybe some Ssam sauce or kimchi to punch the flavor up a notch.
Oh, and once you get going, don’t be afraid to dig right in with your bare hands, and get a little messy.
Cheers, and enjoy!