Beef Short Ribs with Star Anise and Ginger – The Best of Both Worlds

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (7 of 9)Around these parts, having one’s cake and eating it is deemed not to be possible. The same goes in Italy where they say “Volere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca” – to want the barrel full and the wife drunk. In Hungary, they say “Egy fenékkel nem lehet két lovat megülni” – It is impossible to ride two horses with one butt. I take issue with this defeatism. You can have the best of both worlds, if beef short ribs with a little Oriental twist is your thing. 

All one needs is a little imagination, patience and a willingness to experiment. If you want to get the wife drunk, or ride two horses, that’s your business and has little place here.

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (1 of 9)

A non-traditional set of ingredients make for a very interesting experiment.

To serve six people you will need the following:


  • 12 short rib pieces as shown, or 6 larger cuts
  • 7 0r 8 carrots
  • 3 or 4 onions
  • 1 and a half bulbs of garlic
  • 6 to 8 slices of ginger
  • 6 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoons of mixed peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 500ml or a pint of good beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked sea salt (or ordinary salt)
  • 1 large glass of good, robust, red wine
  • 5 or 6 parsnips
  • 1 celeriac
  • Salt and pepper to season

Slice the onions into quarters.

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (2 of 9)

No need for fine slicing. You can half your onion and eat it too!

Peel and slice the carrots into 3cm (1″) pieces. Peel the garlic and trim the ends. Slice the ginger. Heat a casserole dish and add a little oil. Brown the ribs on all sides.

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (3 of 9)

These are good quality, grass fed, long aged, beef ribs. You can have it all!

Remove the beef and reserve. Add the onions and reduce the heat to low. Add a little water and place a lid on the casserole. Cook the onions until they are near translucent. Add back the beef pieces.

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (4 of 9)

Browned on nearly all sides. This one wouldn’t stand up!

Add the remaining dry ingredients, bar the celeriac and parsnip. Take a photograph of them because they look lovely.

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (5 of 9)

There is a lot of flavour in these ingredients. I like this photo.

Add the wet ingredients.

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (6 of 9)

Stock, wine and tomato purée also add a decent belt of flavour.

Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook in a 160ºC oven for 5 hours. Yes, 5 hours. The ribs will give up huge flavour to the meat. The garlic will melt into the sauce and the star anise and ginger will add their unique Oriental flavour too. The remaining ingredients will add a few more subtle layers of flavour too. However, you want the best of both worlds. To do that, chop the parsnips and celeriac into 3cm cubes and steam until soft. Add them to a food processor and blitz to a smooth purée. Season and add a knob of butter if you wish. The sauce may need to be thickened slightly by cooking with the lid off on the stovetop for a while.

Beef Short Ribs with Anise (9 of 9)

Spot the deliberate error. Though, I am left handed, the cutlery is reversed.

The Oriental flavoured beef works beautifully with the very traditional purée and carrots. It’s proof positive that you can ride two horses with one butt. However, if you would rather enjoy a delicious meal and have the best of both worlds, this is the one for you.

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Latest comments
  • I was in awe of the glisten in your first photograph, Conor. Then my literary sensibilities were tickled by the beauty of the one butt comment. You’ve officially blown my mind.

  • Perfect!

  • Your never say die attitude has achieved a delicious sounding and looking fusion and avoided confusion. And all with only one butt. Bravo!

  • Conor, this looks lavishly delish, and I will now have to make a special trip to the butcher for short ribs. I have everything else but the smoked salt, and I will use a drop of smoke essence and regular sea salt instead…

  • I love that Hungarian quote although sadly in my case it might be inaccurate. I would be happy to put on more weight eating this though … lovely combination of flavours.

  • Omg Conor, you have done it again! But this time my eyes left the meat alone (knowing I would not be able to get this here) and got glued onto 2 of my favourite root vegetables – celeriac and parsnips – and those I do miss quite frequently. Nevermind, its lovely to feast mt eyes on your photographs at least. 🙂 🙂

  • Oh how I love short ribs! They look wonderful Conor. Sadly, I fear I might be able to prove that Hungarian saying wrong. I like it though, I will have to find a way to drop it into everyday conversation.

  • Who wouldn’t love a dish like this? Pure comfort food. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • My Hungarian roots notwithstanding, I could totally ride double after a meal like this! A local brewery sometimes makes a similar dish (they also add 5-spice powder and a little hoisin) and I always order it when our paths collide. I’ve been making a lot of cauliflower mash lately. Looks like I’ll have to branch out; that bed of mash looks most divine!

      • You’d be most welcome! They brew a mighty fine stout too.

  • Better late to the game than never, right Conor? I don’t think there is one cut of meat that could defeat you with your mastery of meat. Very nice flavors!

  • Fun tears trickling from my eyes I am clapping! On the plus side I can pronounce ‘that’ Hungarian saying perfectly owing to a short-time but hugely interesting Hungarian husband 🙂 ! Who was the most ardent foodie ever in the universe to boot !!! May want the cake and eat it too tho’ ! On the negative my meat sources rarely offer ribs . . . . shall go on the warpath as want to try! [Love star anise but want to see how six in the pot say hello to the meat!]

  • Star anise, beef, and parsnip: a match made in heaven. Short ribs unfortunately hard to get here. You should try them sous-vide! Love the language lesson.

      • You’ll have two options:
        – 48 hours at 57C will give steak like texture, which is nice for marbled short ribs but not for thick layers of fat (that as you say won’t render)
        – 24 hours at 74C, which will render more of the fat, but will also be more like the oven version

  • Yum!! I make a short ribs braise with a similar flavour profile, roll on winter …

  • I enjoy all your recipes. You have an ey for placement..and photography. If you are not a professional photographer, you certainly have the credentials. 💕

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