I used to think that beef short ribs got their name because they’re ribs that are cut through the bone into short pieces to make dishes such as kalbi or braised beef short ribs cooked with red wine. Actually, they’re called short ribs because they come from a part of the animal called the short plate.
More and more restaurants are serving whole short ribs, which, because the bone is so large (about 30cm in length, although they can be longer), makes for an impressive presentation.
These large ribs need long, slow cooking to break down the connective tissue and to make the meat soft and succulent. Restaurants usually cook them sous-vide, but while immersion circulators are becoming popular (and I highly recommend the Anova, which delivers to Hong Kong), more home cooks have ovens, which is what I’ve used for this recipe. The results aren’t the same (they’re more moist when cooked sous-vide) but this is still a good dish.
Slow-roasted beef ribs with kalbi marinade
Marinate the beef ribs the night before you plan to serve the dish. The ribs take about five hours to cook, usually longer, so start cooking them the next day so they’re ready in time for dinner. They can be slow-roasted in advance, then just before it’s time to serve dinner give them a final 10 to 15 minutes in a 200-degree Celsius oven.
I like to serve the meat sliced with romaine lettuce, perilla leaves and Korean seasoned seaweed (for wrapping), fresh kimchi salad (see below for recipe) and short-grain rice.
2 beef short ribs, about 900 grams each
160 grams nashi pear, peeled
6-8 garlic cloves
Half a small onion (about 70 grams)
A 25 gram piece of ginger, peeled
60ml soy sauce
30ml rice wine
50 grams granulated sugar
2 tsp gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
20ml sesame oil
Cut the short ribs into individual long ribs by slicing between the bones. Put the ribs in a large ziplock bag.
Roughly chop the nashi pear, garlic, onion and ginger, then put the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process to a rough purée. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, gochugaru and sesame oil and process to a loose purée. Pour the marinade into the bag with the short ribs, press out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. Shake the bag to distribute the marinade then refrigerate for several hours.
Preheat the oven to 110 degrees. Take the ribs from the fridge. Place them (leaving behind most of the marinade) in a roasting pan that isn’t too much larger than the ribs when they’re placed side-by-side. If the ribs fall over, prop them up with loosely balled-up aluminium foil. Insert the probe of a meat thermometer (preferably an electric one) into the thickest part of the larger rib (assuming one is bigger than the other): the probe should be inserted parallel to the bone, but not touching it. Strain the marinade, reserving the liquid and solids. Spoon some of the marinade solids over the ribs then place in the oven. Bake at 110 degrees until the meat reaches 90 degrees; this will take at least five hours. Occasionally spoon some of the marinade solids over the meat.
When the meat is ready, remove the ribs from the oven. Turn the oven temperature to 200 degrees. Place the ribs back in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust (from the marinade solids) is set. While the ribs are cooking, pour the marinade liquid into a saucepan and heat over a medium flame until boiling. Lower the heat then simmer until reduced to a light sauce consistency.
Carve the meat into two parts. Cut off the top part of the rib, slicing closely and parallel to the bones to remove the meatiest portion. Turn the rib over and run a sharp knife along the length of the bone to cut the connective tissue that holds the meat in place, then remove the bone; this part of the rib meat has a more gelatinous texture. Cut all of the meat into slices about 8mm thick, spoon over the reduced marinade and serve.
Fresh kimchi salad
This salad is based on a kimchi paste, which, if you were to mix with cabbage leaves that have been salted until thoroughly limp, becomes cabbage kimchi; it can also be used to make other types of kimchi. The salad uses fresh cabbage leaves (not salted ones) and is eaten fresh, not aged. The paste keeps for several months in a jar in the fridge.
The sweet rice flour, gochugaru, salted shrimp (saeujeot, which comes in jars) and anchovy sauce (like Thai/Vietnamese fish sauce, but stronger) can be found at the Korean markets on Kimberley Street, in Tsim Sha Tsui.
For the kimchi paste:
35 grams sweet rice flour
50 grams granulated sugar
100 grams gochugaru
100ml Korean anchovy sauce
100 grams salted shrimp
40 grams garlic, roughly chopped
20 grams ginger, finely chopped
For the salad:
1 head (about 250 grams) young napa cabbage
6-8 spring onions
About 50 grams grated carrot
30-50 grams kimchi paste
10ml sesame oil
Put the sweet rice flour and 240ml of water in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Place the pan over a low flame and whisk constantly until simmering. Turn off the heat and whisk in the sugar, then cool to room temperature. Put the salted shrimp, garlic and ginger in a small blender or food processer and process to a thick paste. Put this mixture into a bowl and add the flour paste, gochugaru and anchovy sauce and mix well, then scrape into clean, dry jars. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the salad, cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and remove the core at the base. Put the smaller leaves into a bowl; cut the medium and large leaves into pieces. Shred the spring onions and cut them into 3cm lengths and add them to the bowl along with the carrot. Add 30 to 50 grams of the kimchi paste and the sesame oil and toss to combine. Pile onto a serving plate then sprinkle with sesame seeds.