Even though the weather wasn't as sunny as I would have expected, we still used our barbeque grill this weekend. Specifically, we grilled 3 pounds of Korean-style beef ribs. We devoured and licked every piece until there were only bones left. I buy beef ribs at a local Korean store; you'll notice there are 3 types of ribs. I always choose the most tender one, which is the most expensive. In addition to the finest quality of meat, I always marinate the meat with a sweet tenderizer: Asian pear. I've used papaya paste in the past as well as buttermilk, but I find that the fruit purée adds a pleasant sweetness to the grilled meat dish.
I usually serve these with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice and pickled cabbage on the side. However, I would recommend eating them in moderation because of they're high in cholesterol.
Servings: 4 servings
3 pounds Korean-cut short ribs, about 10 slices
½ yellow onion, chopped
1-½ tablespoons ginger garlic paste
(click on the link for the recipe)
1 ripe Asian pear
2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
¼ cup dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark honey
2 tablespoons sweet cooking rice wine
4 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
1-½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
2 tablespoons cilantro (optional)
The day before...
Rinse the ribs and pat them dry using paper towels.
Place the beef ribs in a large glass baking dish.
Cut the pear into large cubes. Gather the pear with its juice, core and seeds in a blender. Add the chopped onions, ginger garlic paste, cayenne pepper, honey, rice wine, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cilantro (if used) and green onions. Blend into a smooth purée.
Spread the marinade over the beef. Mix well; the marinade should coat the pieces of beef. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Plastic-wrap the dish and refrigerate overnight, turning the meat occasionally.
The next day...
Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before cooking so the ribs are at room temperature. Transfer the ribs to a large platter, removing as much marinade as possible. Discard the marinade.
Pat the meat dry using paper towels. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
With a silicone brush, grease the grill of your barbecue (a regular frying pan would also work but you won't get the nice grill marks) and heat until it's really hot, almost at the smoking point. Using tongs (I use chopsticks), place the beef ribs on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. It's important that you do not pierce the meat so it stays moist and tender. The meat should caramelize on the edges. Flip the meat on the other side. Grill for another 3-4 minutes. You could extend the cooking time to 10 minutes (for well-done), depending on how you like the meat. But don't extend the cooking too long, or the meat will be over-cooked and tough.
Remove from the grill and transfer to a platter. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and let the meat rest for about 5-10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro if you like and accompany with ginger Asian pear dipping sauce (recipe follows).
Because of the nature of these acidic ingredients, it is recommended to use non-reactive tableware to marinate the meat. A large sealable plastic bag or a ceramic, glass or stainless-steel bowl or baking dish are fine. Just avoid aluminum containers; the meat could end up with a metallic taste because of the chemical reaction.
I buy Korean-style short ribs cut at a local Korean market. Look for the ones called "flanken". The name is derived from a strip of meat that runs across the bone to the chuck end. The cut is about 8 inches long studded with 3 small rib bones. The meat is extremely tender.
The soy sauce gives saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a good flavor and is not too salty. You can find it at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 South 2nd Street, San Jose.
Easy recipe for a ginger Asian pear dipping sauce: Combine 1 puréed ripe Asian pear, 1-½ tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon fruity olive oil, ¼ cup honey, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon tahini (sesame paste) and 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger in an immersion blender attachment or a mini-prep until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Add a little water (1/3 to ½ cup water for a smoother flow) if necessary.