Cooking on deadline: Korean style grilled short ribs
Those who love short ribs LOVE them. Those who haven’t cooked them at home before might be a little intimidated by them. Let’s bridge that gap.
In general, short ribs have to be cooked either low and slow, or very quickly over high heat so that they don’t become tough. This recipe calls for almost flash grilling, just 3 or 4 minutes on each side.
Because this is a fast-cooked short rib recipe, the cut you’ll want to buy is “flanken-style,” where the ribs are cut across the bones into thin slices. This allows the surface to caramelize while keeping the middle juicy and tender.
Sometimes, if you find a very, very nice butcher (and I surely did), he or she will cut the flanken in strips in such a way that there are no bones in the slices. This might be more expensive, and some flanken purists might insist that the bones add flavor and are part of the point of short ribs. But when it comes time to eat the meat, boneless flanken strips make for very easy dining.
You can serve these on their own, with a big pile of fluffy rice. I like to serve this the way a number of Korean meat dishes are served, with rice and lettuce leaves, and some condiments of your choice. A bit of the meat and a bit of the rice goes into a lettuce leaf, along with any extras, and then you fold up the lettuce around the filling. This is known as ssam, or lettuce wraps, and they are a lot of fun. The balance of the crisp vegetables, fresh herbs, rich meat and fragrant rice works every time, even though it might be slightly different every time. Part of its charm. Add what you like, skip what you don’t, and wrap and eat.
Along with the easily available suggestions for add-ins below, sometimes kimchi is offered, and a condiment called ssamjang, which translates to “wrapping sauce.” If you can find either, add them to the offerings.
You can also broil these instead of grilling during the months when you are cozying up to your stove instead of your grill.
Start to finish: 13 hours (included 12 hours marinating time)
5 scallions, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs , cut across the bones into 1/2 inch slices
Optional, for serving:
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Large lettuce leaves, such as tender Boston or Bibb
Cucumbers and carrots, cut into matchsticks
Fresh herbs, such as basil, mint and cilantro
Sriracha or other hot chili sauce
Place the scallions, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Place the short ribs in a container, pour the marinade over them and turn to coat well. Cover the short ribs and refrigerate from 12 to 24 hours.
Just before grilling, toast the sesame seeds, if using, by heating a small skillet over medium high heat, then adding the seeds. Toss and stir for a few minutes until they become deeper golden in color, but watch carefully as they can burn quickly. Transfer to a small plate.
Preheat the grill to medium high. Remove the short ribs from the marinade. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side, until the outside is caramelized and the middle is medium-rare. Allow the meat to sit for 5 minutes before slicing across the grain and serving with the hot rice. Or, if you prefer (and do consider this), slice the meat thinly and serve it with any or all of the suggested accompaniments. Let each diner wrap up some meat and rice with whatever extras they want, and make it an interactive dinner.