The Chinese technique known as "red cooking" involves braising meat in a mixture of soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and spices until it is incredibly tender. Inspired by Daniel Boulud's famed short ribs braised in red wine, Shun Lee chef Michael Tong (author of this week's Cook the Book selection, The Shun Lee Cookbook) created this recipe for red-cooked beef short ribs. In his Eastern rendition, the ribs are simmered with ginger, cinnamon, chilies, and star anise. Once prepared, they are taken off the bone so diners can eat them with chopsticks.
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Red-Cooked Beef Short Ribs
- 2 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, cut by the butcher into 8 pieces about 2 inches long
- 5 cups dry sherry or red wine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed
- One 1 1/2 piece peeled fresh ginger, flattened with a cleaver
- Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
- 3 dried hot red chilies
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 pound spinach
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the short ribs and cook for one minute to remove some of the surface fat. Drain in a colander.
Combine the sherry, sugar, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, cinnamon sticks, chilies, star anise, white pepper, and 3 cups of water in a flameproof casserole. Stir to mix. Add the short ribs, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the meat is fork-tender, about two and a half hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a chopping board. Cut the meat from the bones, transfer the meat to a bowl, and discard the bones. Remove the scallions, ginger, and whole spices from the sauce. Boil the sauce, uncovered, until it is syrupy, glossy, and reduced to 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook until tender, about one and half minutes. Drain in a colander. Place the spinach on a platter.
Return short rib meat to the casserole and cook to heat through. Spoon the meat and sauce over the spinach, and serve immediately.