Beef ribs tend to be one of those oddball cuts of meat that I tend not to think about very often. That’s not to say I don’t like them, in fact, braised short ribs are one of my very favorite pieces of beef. A slow, purposeful braise (or in my own experience, a 16 hour sous-vide) will result in amazingly tender beef with a deep, rich flavor.
Unfortunately, it’s not the destination, but the multi-hour journey that controls my thought process when it comes to beef ribs. I mean, do I really have the time or energy to burn an afternoon tending to the oven? Nope, especially now that beef ribs have made their way to the ranks of the “desirable” cuts of meat, and therefor jacked up the price. It’s just not worth it.
Back in the day – before the era of youtube-educated and well-equipped home cook – beef ribs were cheap. The reason is simple: they’re a relatively tough cut with a lot of bones (obviously), cut from a portion of the cow that has a lot of moving parts. Various muscles, tendons, fat and connective tissues run through this section of the animal, which means that cooks need to put a lot of time, care and effort into making sure those pieces all get broken down through the cooking process.
OR – you could find a way around all of that.
At some point, some genius of a butcher (I’m assuming) realized that if you slice the rib plate really thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch) against the bone, you can negate a whole bunch of those problems. The thin pieces of meat hold all of the rich beefy flavor of regular beef ribs, but you don’t have to spend hours breaking down the tissues to make it not rubbery. The thin cut allows for absorption of tasty marinades, and – BONUS – cooks to tender perfection surprisingly quickly.
This “flanken” style cut of beef ribs, which is probably best know as the basis of Korean Kalbi beef, has become increasingly popular, and can be found in grocery stores and (at least in my area) prepackaged at Costco.
I’ve played around with various recipes in the past. I made a Spicy-Sweet Korean-style BBQ Ribs recipe a few years ago, which thinking back on it may have been too spicy for my guests. My recipe today, however, is one that I will be coming back to. The base of the marinade is an orange and a pear, which meant it doesn’t have a lot of extra sugar (just a few tbs of white sugar and some mirin), and relies on bold flavors like fresh ginger and sesame oil, and a touch of Sambal Oelek to bring a bit of heat.
Side note: if you like Sriracha, Sambal Oelek is like that, but better.
If you’re looking form something to cook for your next BBQ, something new to make over the summer, or if you’ve ever simply wondered how to cook flanken style beef short ribs (or what they are), I think you should give this recipe a try. If you do, please let me know how it goes!
- 3 lbs. flanken-style beef ribs
- 1 orange – peeled
- 1 pear – peeled, chopped and seeded
- 1 small (or 1/2 of a larger) yellow onion – rough chopped
- 1 inch fresh ginger root – peeled
- 6 garlic cloves – peeled
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tbs sugar
- 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbs sambal oelek
- 1 tbs mirin
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- cooking spray (for grilling)
- 3 green onions – chopped (for serving)
- 2-3 tbs sesame seeds (for serving)
Note: I recommend preparing and letting the beef soak in the marinade at least 2 hours (but up to 6 hours) before cooking.
- Prepare all of the ingredients as listed above. The process of cutting the ribs, especially if you got the bone in, can leave tiny pieces of bone. You might want to clean any tiny bone fragments off the beef by wiping them gently with a paper towel.
- Set the ribs aside, and place all of the prepared ingredients – the orange, pear, onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sambal oelek, mirin and sesame oil – into a blender, and turn it into a marinade. That’s right, liquify all of it. Give it some extra time to make sure you’re not left with any big floating chunks.
- Place the ribs into a gallon ziploc bag, or a big bowl, and pour the marinade over it, making sure that everything gets coated evenly.
- Place the marinating meat in the refrigerator, and let it soak for at least 2, but up to 6 hours.
- When you’re ready to cook, remove the meat from the fridge, and preheat your grill over high heat.
- Word of advice: This cooks fast and hot, so I wouldn’t recommend cooking it inside on the stove/a grill pan.
- When the grill is hot, give it a quick blast of cooking spray, and lay the strips of steak out flat on the grill. Depending on the amount of steak, you may need to work in batches.
- Cook the pieces of meat on the first side for about 3 minutes (you lose some time when there are lots of pieces to flip) and then quickly flip them. You should be getting some nice caramelization on the meat (those tasty looking brown bits) if the grill is still on high.
- Finish the process with another 3 minutes cooking on the second side, and then pull them off the grill.
- Try not to dig in JUST YET. Instead, sprinkle them with the green onions and sesame seeds.
- Now you can serve, and enjoy, hopefully with a cold beer to wash it all down.