Why It Works
- The flavors from a Korean kalbi marinade are transformed into a nuanced pan sauce.
- Chinese black vinegar lends tang, while brown sugar and apple juice introduce a balanced dimension of sweetness.
Braised short ribs may be one of my favorite comfort foods: Cooked slowly, they become incredibly tender while absorbing all the flavors they're cooked with. Comforting and delicious? Absolutely. But summery? Not really.
So when I crave short ribs in hot-weather season, I find ways to lighten them up. Here, I cook the ribs in braising liquid that's inspired by Korean kalbi marinade, then serve them with white rice and a refreshing garnish of green onion and Asian pear.
Like any braise, properly browning the meat is important, since it helps build the sauce's depth of flavor. I find a mixture of low-sodium soy and ponzu sauces works particularly well for this dish, since even low-sodium versions of the former still pack a punch—one that citrusy ponzu helps to take down a notch. Given the overall sodium content, I don't recommend adding additional salt, even when you brown the meat. Unless you're an extreme salt hound, you'll likely find the dish doesn't require it.
The additional liquids—mirin and apple juice—lend nuance and sweetness, as does the brown sugar that's incorporated into the sauce. Meanwhile, the short ribs get a touch of nuttiness from some toasted sesame oil. A dash of vinegar helps balance the whole thing out. I prefer inky, mellow Chinese black vinegar, which has an intrinsically smoky character. It's generally available in the Asian section of well-stocked grocery stores; however, rice vinegar is an acceptable substitute. Just be sure you use the unseasoned variety.
Once the meat finishes slow-cooking in the oven, I turn the braising liquid into a quick gravy by thickening it with a little of cornstarch. Just be sure to taste the cooking liquid before adding the cornstarch slurry: If it's too concentrated, dilute it with a little water and/or mirin before proceeding.
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup mirin or sweet sherry, or more as needed
1/4 cup ponzu sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Cooked white rice, for serving
2 green onions, thinly sliced, including green parts
1 Asian pear or other just-ripe pear, cored and cut into matchsticks
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Heat oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Season meat generously with pepper, then sear until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side.
Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 2 minutes. Add mirin and scrape up any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Add ponzu sauce, soy sauce, apple juice, sesame oil, 1/2 cup water, brown sugar, and vinegar and stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise, turning beef once and adding water if necessary to keep it halfway submerged throughout cooking, until beef is fork-tender, about 3 1/2 hours.
Transfer beef to a platter and skim fat from cooking juices in Dutch oven. Taste cooking juices: If too concentrated, dilute to taste with water and/or mirin. Combine cornstarch with remaining 2 tablespoons water, whisking thoroughly to remove any lumps. Whisk cornstarch slurry into cooking juices, bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until gravy is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve short ribs over rice, drizzled with gravy and garnished with green onion and pear.
The meat will be dark outside, almost black in fact. Don't worry: This doesn't mean it's burned. It's due to the numerous dark components in the dish, such as soy and ponzu sauces, dark brown sugar and black vinegar.
Make Ahead and Storage
The short ribs may be made and refrigerated up to two days in advance. Simply reheat the meat gently in the juices. Do not garnish until right before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 30g||39%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||53%|
|Total Carbohydrate 98g||36%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Total Sugars 40g|
|Vitamin C 31mg||156%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|