Red Cooked Short Ribs – If You Can Find The Ribs.

In an ideal world, all women would be a 10 so dress manufacturers would only need to make one size. Shopping would be a lot simpler too. Men would be happy with mid grey polyester-cotton trousers in 32” waist/ 34” leg. Retailing would be so much easier. In the same idiom, butchers could only sell mince meat and chicken breasts. Things would be so easy. But, for women, men and butchers, life is not that simple. Butchers need to offer a bit more than the top margin products that virtually sell themselves. Some try to do it by buying in a range of day-glow sauces and “adding value” by disguising the meat in these industrially produced “authentic” flavours. This may keep the wolf of competition from the door in the short term. Business logic tells me that the advantage will be eroded by supermarkets and this variety of independent butcher, like the guy trying to fit into size 32, will be under pressure again.

I see the better ones working hard to educate and guide their customers towards using some of the lesser cuts. There is huge flavour, great value and a lot of enjoyment in these. Beef short ribs are in this category. They are cheap and good ones are great. However, you need a good butcher to get the best. Thankfully, I know a few good butchers. I got the short ribs for my Red Cooked Short Ribs from one of that number. Red cooking is a traditional Chinese method that adds loads of flavour and works really well with the ribs.

Ingredients for eight (diners, not dress size)

  • 1.5 kilos of best beef short ribs
  • 500ml of quality beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 8 spring onions
  • 400 gms of tinned water chestnuts
  • 50 gms of dried Chinese mushrooms, reconstituted
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cm piece of root ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil

These are best without the the rubbery bits.

Trim the extraneous bits from the ribs and slice into manageable pieces, one rib or two long. Place a large casserole dish on the hob. Heat it and add the oil. Roughly chop the ginger, garlic and spring onions.

Use as much of the green as you like. There is lots of flavour in there.

Add to the oil and stir until you can smell the aromas of ginger and garlic rising out of the pot. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Shred the chilli lengthwise, leaving it in one piece (easy to get it out at the end). Take out the aromatics and add the beef a few pieces at a time to brown them.

The short ribs have lots of beefy flavour. Browning accentuates it.

When all pieces are browned, add back the vegetables and all the beef. Add the other ingredients too. The water chestnuts are an important ingredient as they have a great ability to take on the flavours of the dish while adding a lovely crunch. Stir to combine everything.

Use great stock. I made this myself.

The star anise is an important ingredient that adds a lovely extra dimension to the dish. Be sure to add it.

A good action shot always helps. I think this is a good action shot.

Heat until it boils. Scoop off any excess fat that rises to the top. Place the casserole covered in a 180ºC/355ºF oven. Leave it there for three and a half to four hours. Return it to the hob and cook uncovered until the sauce is a nice thick, sticky consistency.

This is really tasty and the sauce is great with the rice. Enjoy.

This is a really punchy and tasty dish. Serve it with boiled rice and your guests will be happy you took the trouble to seek out a good butcher selling great short ribs. This is so good, they are unlikely to fit their size 10 dresses and 32” trousers for too long. They will not be bothered. It is delicious. Support the butchers that go the extra bit to understand their craft and their customers. They deserve your custom.

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Latest comments
  • Never seen beef short ribs here, I’ll try asking for ’bouts de côtes’ as this looks a good dish. Or will use the usual pork.
    Can we make all the trousers 36 -31 please, or even 38, you skinny guys can always belt them up tighter.

  • These look wonderful, Conor. Short ribs can be found in some places, but the price is up with the lower high-end cuts. It is harder and harder to actually find an actual butcher here.”Supermarkets” have fewer and fewer in-house butchers , as well.
    I’ve been recovering from fairly radical neck surgery, but I’m finally back, able to read, write and sit at the computer and type. You’re among the first that I am visiting.

  • I definitely don’t want that ideal world, give oven busters any day of the week. Yours look delicious!

  • Boy, I’m I glad it’s not a perfect world. I haven’t been 32″ in the waist since I was 12. Alas, beef short ribs of this type are not to be found over this way either. But, we have a pork short rib that might adapt well to this. You have a lot of good Asian inspired flavor in that recipe and I plan to have a wack at this.

  • Paleron would be a great substitute.

  • who’s your butcher?

  • I shall have to remember about water chestnuts… Our ‘good’ butchers have caught on about the alternative cuts, and cheeks, ribs and shins are now commanding prices that make them a bit of a treat rather than an everyday pleasure. Australia’s widespread drought doesn’t help our domestic beef prices, either…

  • This is a fabulous recipe, I’m bookmarking it until I can get my hands on some more short ribs. Huge round of applause, Mr B.

  • Tried your oriental lamb shanks at the weekend. Gorgeous although slightly overdone the lamb. Gorgeous none the less and thanks .

  • Beef short ribs do not belong to the ‘usual’ trays at the supermarket here either . . . especially ones as lean as yours . . . Your Asian fusion dishes quite thrill me and I am SO looking forwards to your cookery class described in Instagram: will you be able to post that at greater length . . . meanwhile, back to local butchers . . .

  • Those look so good! I absolutely adore short ribs. I’ve never heard of the red cooking, but the ingredients in this recipe are fabulous.

  • Now you’ve made me hungry and it’s only half past nine!

  • In an ideal world size 10 would be the same across the board but it’s amazing the different sizes that size 10 comes in. But I digress. What a great recipe for cheaper cuts of meat.

  • This sounds just lovely. Short ribs can be hard to find here but an Asian market opened up not too far from my house, at least on this side of the city and i wandered through the other day. One thing I noticed was ribs galore. Nothing had “grades” on them though, but next time I’m inn I’ll give this a go! I have to get through at least SOME of what I bought first,lol!

  • Great recipe Conor, I will be hot footing it down to our local butcher tomorrow morning.

  • I do love short ribs. Unfortunately, a lot of people on this side of the Atlantic in recent years have discovered them, so their price has gone through the roof… ! Happy to hear they’re still affordable over there.

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