Korean Short Rib Tacos
This recipe is as much of a mash-up as the idea of Korean tacos in the first place, made famous and trendy by the Kogi BBQ truck in Los Angeles. I took the idea of using prune juice to tenderize and marinate short ribs from Rozanne Gold’s Recipes 1-2-3 and the idea to include Asian pear, scallions, and sesame seeds from Joanne Chang of Boston’s Myers + Chang restaurant. This makes enough short ribs for three or four meals, depending on your appetite. (In addition to these tacos, you can toss the short ribs with egg noodles, eat over polenta, or layer into a particularly sophisticated take on nachos.)
Total Timeunder 4 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, tree nut free
Taste and Texturehot & spicy, meaty, umami
- 3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
- Kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Asian pear
- ½ cup prune juice
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 2 (1-inch) pieces fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
- 4 whole star anise
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 or 4 corn tortillas, preferably homemade
- 1/3 cup Cabbage and Pear Kimchi or your favorite store-bought version
- 1 scallion, white and green parts, diagonally sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Asian-style hot sauce, such as Sriracha sauce (optional)
To make the short ribs, season the ribs generously with salt. Pour the oil into a 4- to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the short ribs in a single layer, being careful not to crowd and working in batches if necessary. Sear until deeply browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the ribs to a platter. Pour off and discard the extra fat in the pot from the ribs, leaving the browned bits in the bottom of the pot for flavor.
Core and remove the stem from the Asian pear and cut it into quarters. Thinly slice one quarter and reserve it for the tacos. Run the remaining three-quarters across the large holes of a box grater. Add the pear to a medium bowl, and stir in the prune juice, water, soy sauce, mirin, sake, ginger, star anise, and black peppercorns.
Return the ribs to the pot, set over medium-high heat, and pour the prune juice mixture over the ribs. Bring the mixture to a boil and decrease the heat to low or medium-low, so that the liquid is at a bare simmer. Cover and cook until the meat is so tender it offers no resistance at all to a skewer inserted into the thickest part, 2 to 2½ hours. The short rib should stay in place and not be lifted up when you raise the skewer, and the meat should slip away from the bone.
Transfer the cooked short ribs to a bowl and cover with a piece of aluminum foil to keep them warm.
Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup with a pouring spout and discard the solids. (If you’d like to defat the sauce, you can refrigerate it for an hour or two, until the fat congeals on the top; scrape it off and discard it.) Pour the sauce back into the pot over medium-high heat and cook the sauce, uncovered, at a vigorous bubble until it is very syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and cover the pot to keep the sauce warm.
To make the tacos, warm the tortillas and wrap them in aluminum foil to keep warm.
Remove any large strips of fat or gristle from the short ribs, then lightly shred the meat using forks or your fingers. Pour the sauce over the meat and toss to thoroughly coat it. Depending on the meatiness of your short ribs, you should have 2 to 3 cups of meat. Use ½ to ¾ cup for one serving of tacos, and reserve the rest of the meat for another two or three meals.
Transfer the warm tortillas to a dinner plate. Divide the short rib meat among them and top with kimchi, Asian pear, scallion, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and a drizzle of hot sauce, and eat.
Refrigerate the leftover short ribs for up to a week in an airtight container, or freeze for several months.
2011 Joe Yonan