Soy-braised short ribs: The Korean way to celebrate
Food & Drink
I like to think of this recipe as the “grownup” version of kalbi jim, the classic Korean short-rib dish, says Sohui Kim in The Good Fork Cookbook (Abrams). Given the proliferation of Korean barbecue restaurants in the U.S., you might not guess that Koreans actually eat very little meat. To me, short ribs were for special occasions only, which is why when my mother made them, I always thought that someone must be getting married. They’re great to make on any cold day, though, because they simmer for hours on a warm stove.
At the Good Fork, the Brooklyn restaurant that I run with my husband, I add a little French technique—braising the short ribs in red wine instead of simply boiling them, as many Koreans do. I serve the ribs with black rice, and garnish the dish with kimchi, scallions, sesame seeds, crushed chestnuts, and ribbons of fried and beaten eggs. But don’t worry about providing all of those additions: “Just one or two is all you need.”
Soy-braised short ribs
Canola or grapeseed oil, for sautéing
4–5 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, about 5 inches long
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, cut in large dice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¹?³ cup peeled fresh ginger chunks
2 cups red wine
2 cups water or chicken stock
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup mirin
1 cup diced kimchi
Crushed chestnuts, toasted sesame seeds, sliced scallions, and slivers of fried beaten eggs, for garnish (optional)
Add just enough canola oil to coat a wide, heavy-bottomed, straight-sided pot, and warm the oil over high heat. Season the ribs lightly with salt and pepper and sear them well on all sides. Remove ribs and set them aside. In the same pot, add more oil if needed and sauté onion, garlic, and ginger over medium-high heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine and let it reduce by half.
Add water or stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, and mirin. Bring to a boil, then add half of the kimchi, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Return ribs to pan. The liquid should come at least three-quarters of the way up the sides of the ribs. If it doesn’t, add more water or stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2½ hours, covered. Check after 2 hours; if the meat is falling off the bone but not falling apart, the ribs are ready. Remove ribs from pan.
Strain the sauce. Skim off and discard as much fat as you can with a ladle. Serve ribs covered with the sauce and garnished with the remaining ½ cup chopped kimchi and, if you like, one or more of the optional toppings. Serves 4 to 6.