The winter of our meaty content: Korean Oven-braised Short Ribs

by Terry B on January 9, 2013

Korean-style beef short ribs become tender and flavorful when oven braised with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, fresh pear, carrots, scallions and daikon. Recipe below.

One of the best things about exploring other countries’ cuisines is shopping. Saturday found us at H Mart in suburban Chicago, conveniently at lunchtime. We headed straight to the food court, where we ordered generous, steaming bowls of pork and kimchi dumpling soup. H Mart is an Asian-inspired supermarket chain that started in Queens, New York.

The name is short for “Han Ah Reum,” Korean for “One Arm Full of Groceries.” You’re lucky if you can get out of this sprawling treasure trove of all things Asian carrying just one armful of groceries. The vast produce section has beautiful examples of all the usual suspects as well as things hard to find elsewhere—lotus root, enoki mushrooms, turmeric (not the powder, but the actual gnarly little rhizomes), tiny, speckled fresh quail eggs… The specific ingredient I’d gone in search of was Korean-style beef short ribs. We left, of course, with our arms more than full.

Korean-style short ribs actually come in a few different cuts. One is also known as the flanken cut, in which the ribs are sliced thinly across the bone, with three or more bones in each slice. What I was looking for were more like the standard short ribs you see in the supermarket, only shorter—they’re cut into two-inch (or so) sections. H Mart had both these cuts as well as others.

As winter seriously settles in, we’re looking for excuses to turn on the oven and fill the apartment with meaty cooking smells. There’s a dazzling array of variations on Galbi Jjim, traditional Korean braised short ribs, out there. One thing virtually all of them share is cooking them on the stovetop. I chose to oven braise them. Besides the reason stated above, oven braising wraps the whole pan in even, moderate heat instead of concentrating all of it on the bottom of the pan. However you cook them, the results are satisfyingly chewy/tender and delicious, flavorful but not spicy.

Korean Braised Short Ribs (Galbi Jjim)
Serves 4

2-1/2 pounds Korean style short ribs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Asian or Bosc pear, peeled and grated on box grater
3/4-cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
4 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
freshly ground black pepper
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into a large dice
1/2 pound piece of daikon (Japanese radish), peeled and cut into large dice (see Kitchen Notes)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
salt
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted (see Kitchen Notes)

cooked white rice

special equipment: parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Score ribs on the meaty side with 1/2-inch slices across the grain; this will allow the meat to absorb more flavor from the braising liquid. Put short ribs in a large pot and cover with lots of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You can spoon off the scum that forms or not—you’re going to discard this water anyway. Remove the ribs with tongs and rinse under cold running water. This step gets rid of some of the blood and excess fat.

While the meat is simmering, combine ginger, garlic, pear, soy sauce, wine, water, sesame oil and sugar in a large bowl. Season with a generous grind of black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium flame and sweat the onion until translucent and softening, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the braising liquid mixture to the Dutch oven and nestle the ribs, meaty side down, into the sauce. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Press a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside the Dutch oven down on top of the ribs. Cover the Dutch oven with lid and transfer to oven.

Braise ribs for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and add carrots, daikon and scallions, pressing down into the braising liquid. Replace the parchment  paper and lid and return to oven. Braise for another 30 minutes.

Using tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer ribs and vegetables to a large bowl and tent with foil. Bring braising liquid to a boil over medium high flame and reduce slightly to a sauce, about 5 minutes.

Plate cooked rice in individual shallow bowls or rimmed plates. Top with ribs and vegetables and spoon sauce over. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Kitchen Notes

Daikon. In Japanese, daikon means “large root.” While you can find it in most Asian markets, the trick may be finding a non-giant piece. But find it if you can; it adds a tangy, sweet, crunchy bite to this dish. If not, some suggested substitutes include turnips, jicama or water chestnuts. I can’t vouch for these, because I haven’t tried them.

Toasting sesame seeds. Crazy easy. Spread them in a single layer in a cold, dry nonstick skillet. Toast over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until slightly golden and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Fork and Whisk January 9, 2013 at 3:52 am

That looks great. My wife and I have a friend that lives in Korea that we would really like to go and visit. I love the food. Thanks for the post, makes me want to get there even more.

kitchenriffs January 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

H Mart sounds wonderful! St. Louis actually has some quite good Asian stores, but I hope an H Mart opens here — I love food shopping, and I’d definitely not be a one-bagger there! Nice looking short ribs — your flavoring isn’t overpowering the ribs. I almost always oven braise these days, for the same reason you do: the heat seems more gentle, and I don’t have to worry about stirring from time to time (because as you point out the heat isn’t concentrated on the bottom of the pot). Good stuff — thank you.

Anita January 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm

HMart (or actually, “Super H Mart”!) is where I finally found duck legs for a recipe you folks posted a year or two ago, and which I now make once every few months! Yum to both of you!

I do have a request, though – so many of your recipes call for fresh or whole spices or herbs (for instance last week’s curry, ginger above, said duck leg recipe)… could you provide ground and/or dried equivalents? I know it’s not the same, but I’m not quite at that level of cooking / herb farming / grinding.

Terry B January 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Thanks, Fork and Whisk! Hope you do get to go.

Kitchenriffs, we love Jay International on South Grand in St. Louis. It used to be called Jay Asia before they started carrying so many foods from other countries.

Anita, I often try to include dry equivalents, but don’t always remember. With most fresh herbs, use about 1/3 to 1/2 as much as the fresh. When it comes to ginger, though, if you can get fresh, it really is better. If not, the dried ground ginger is really potent, so use much less. I’ve read anywhere from 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon to replace a tablespoon of fresh ginger. So for this recipe, I would go with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the dried.

dani h January 10, 2013 at 2:55 am

it’s lovely to see your beautiful photography again, Terry! i missed you! this recipe looks and sounds delicious ~ do you know if freezing ginger root and then grating just what you need would affect the flavor? a friend of mine swears by it since she also cooks for just one, but she doesn’t know equivalency to using it fresh.

i hope the new year is off to a good start for you!

Mellen January 10, 2013 at 4:00 am

Love the recipe, and love H Mart – it’s our go-to supermarket here and makes for a mini-Asian vacation every time!

The Rowdy Chowgirl January 10, 2013 at 11:07 pm

“One Arm Full of Groceries.” Really? I love it! Asian supermarkets are so much fun. I don’t know how I manage to spend so much money at them, when everything is so cheap!

kitty January 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm

ah!!!!

I work near Ktown, so I know what you mean. I love the supermarket there. I could browse for a long, long time.

I will have to try this this weekend!! I can see it going well with a side of sauteed spinach (trying to get some veggies into Mark) ;-)

Thanks Terrry!!!

Terry B January 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Thanks, Dani! From what I’ve read, freezing fresh ginger works fine—and frozen ginger is even easier to grate than non-frozen. There’s no conversion to worry about either, since it’s still essentially “fresh.”

Mellen, that’s exactly how we feel about trips to H Mart.

I know, Rowdy! Partly it’s because we can’t help but trawl the aisles for unusual new things to try. H Mart also has bountiful, fresh, cheap fish.

Kitty, we love K-Town (Koreatown) in Manhattan. Our last few visits to New York, we’ve walked straight from Penn Station to KyoChon for the fiery, flavorful Korean fried chicken, hauling our luggage with us.

Jeff F January 15, 2013 at 2:43 am

Sounds Delish!

Can you substitute any oil in place of the canola? If not, which do you recommend?

Terry B January 15, 2013 at 3:18 am

Thanks, Jeff! Sure, you can use olive oil or vegetable oil. I like canola oil because it has a reasonably high smoke point and a fairly neutral flavor. It also has many of the health benefits of olive oil. I wouldn’t use extra virgin olive oil because of its low smoke point and assertive flavor.

MDH January 16, 2013 at 12:17 am

These look really intriguing, especially the pear!

When you make short ribs, do you always boil them first, or is this something you do just for Korean short ribs? I’m just curious because I’ve never seen this step before.

Terry B January 16, 2013 at 2:03 am

To be honest, MDH, this was the first time I did the pre-boil. But virtually all recipes I found for Korean short ribs included it. Most short rib recipes I’ve done call for browning the ribs first; the Korean rib recipes did not. I think that searing probably does some of what the pre-boiling does, cooking off some of the blood and fat.

Denise January 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Hah. Super H Mart is just down the road from us and we love it! :-)

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