If I had to pick a favourite cut of beef, it would simply have to be short ribs; cheap, tasty and meltingly tender, I just can’t get enough of them.
The perfect marriage between meat, bone and fat, short rib is my go-to cut of beef for whenever I am doing a long braise, as it is perfectly suited to being cooked for extended periods. Whether it’s for a spicy Mussaman Curry, a comforting bowl of Beef Phở or a simple cider braise beef, short ribs works a treat with just about any style of cooking, so long as it is afforded enough time to work its magic.
Which brings me to this delectable dish! Robustly flavoured and so tender you can literally suck the meat off the bone, Sticky Beef Short Ribs is a great way to prepare this special cut. Although the dish has all the hallmarks of a classic Chinese style braise, the addition of Korean Soybean Paste (doenjang) does muddle the waters somewhat, resulting in a dish that is equally suited to both a Chinese or Korean spread. If you can’t source any doenjang, regular Chinese Bean Sauce would suffice, or, if you wanted to add a Japanese twist to the dish, you can always try some miso. Personally, if you can, I would stick with the doenjang as it adds a distinctly earthy depth to the dish that neither miso nor Chinese Bean Sauce does.
Note: As with most other Asian braises, this dish is always best if made the day before, but is still delicious if eaten immediately. If you are making the dish in advance then it is best not to reduce the sauce immediately, but rather wait until you are going to eat it to do so.
Sticky Beef Short Ribs: Serves 6 as part of a larger meal
- 900g to 1kg beef short ribs
- 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 4cm fresh ginger, peeled & finely sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded & finely diced
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 80ml light soya sauce
- 1/2 cup tamarind water
- 2 tbsp. Korean soya-bean paste (doenjang) or substitute (see above)
- 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1 litre water
- Heat 2 tbsps. of the oil in a large saucepan (one with a lid). Add the short ribs in batches and brown thoroughly. Place the meat to one side
- Clean the saucepan and then heat until smoking, pour in the remaining vegetable oil and then add the sliced ginger and garlic, followed by a pinch of sea salt
- Stir-fry for 30 seconds and then add the shaoxing/dry sherry. Deglaze the saucepan and then add the diced tomatoes. Simmer rapidly for a couple of minutes
- Stir in the sugar and cook for 5 minutes or until the sugar begins to caramelise a little
- Add the tamarind water, soya-bean paste, oyster sauce and light soya sauce
- Return the beef to the saucepan and then cover with water. Give everything a good stir. Make sure that all the short ribs are covered by the water
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a steady simmer. Cover and cook for 2 hours or until the ribs are fork tender
- Once cooked, skim the braising liquid to remove any impurities
- When you are ready to serve the dish, remove the ribs and place the sauce over a high heat. Reduce the sauce until thick and glossy. Return the ribs to the saucepan and continue cooking for a couple of minutes until the meat is coated in the sticky sauce
- Serve immediately