It’s hard to turn down boneless short ribs at a good price, even if you can’t immediately think of a use for all of it. I knew that some would be reserved for grinding (along with chuck and brisket) into hamburger patties, but I also wanted braised short ribs without heating up the Belm Utility Research Kitchen above its sauna-like temperature. That’s where this recipe from Momofuku came to the rescue: I’d get my ribs with a minimal amount of effort as long as I was willing to wait a few days.
I started with the ingredients for a kalbi marinade: 600 grams of water, 150 grams of light soy sauce, 42 grams of pear juice, 42 grams of apple juice, 23 grams of mirin, 13 grams of sesame oil, 250 grams of sugar, a small carrot, two garlic cloves, and half an onion (standing in for three scallion whites).
I combined everything in a large pot, added about ten grinds of black pepper, brought the mixture to a boil, then simmered for ten minutes. After straining out the solids, I had about three cups of marinade.
I trimmed the boneless ribs into eight pieces, placed two each in vacuum seal bags with half a cup of the marinade, sealed the bags, and then sealed again to create double-bagged portions.
I put the bags in a water bath and set my immersion circulator to 60°C, then cooked the ribs for 48 hours.
On the day I wanted to serve the ribs, I made dashi-braised daikon. I stared with raw daikon that I sliced into inch-long segments and then trimmed to an inch in diameter with a ring cutter. Rather than make a batch of fresh dashi, I chose to use the instant stuff.
I simmered the daikon in two cups of dashi for thirty minutes until it was tender.
I also made quick pickled carrots, using a purple variety to add more color to the plate.
When the ribs were ready I strained the marinade out of the bags into a saucepan, then boiled to reduce.
While the sauce reduced, I blanched and shocked some scallions.
I seared the ribs in a screaming hot cast iron pan with a little oil, let them rest for a few minutes, then sliced them against the grain. To serve, I put some of the reduced braising liquid on the plate, draped a scallion across, laid the meat on top, added the carrots and daikon, folded the scallion over, then topped the daikon with pickled mustard seeds. I added a thin slice of watermelon radish for color and crunch, and finished with a sprinkle of Maldon salt.
Sous vide cooked short ribs are a revelation: they’re as beefy and flavorful as you’d expect, but they don’t disintegrate the way conventionally braised ribs do. They have a bit of chew to them, so you know you’re eating real beef. The braised daikon had a similar texture but a more mellow taste than uncooked radish. And, of course, the carrots added necessary acidity to a dish that was almost too rich.
I cooked more short rib than I needed for one meal, so a few days later I seared and sliced the remaining meat, reheated the sauce (thickened with xanthan gum to prevent splitting), and served it over rice with a 13-minute onsen poached egg and some snow peas. It was the most luxurious bibimbap we’ve ever eaten.