Saturday, September 02, 2006

Short Ribs Again

In the past, I've blogged about my quest to make the perfect short rib dish:
Since the third time, I have made this dish a couple of times in the pressure cooker. The last attempt was on Friday. Before Friday, Seppo's observation had been that the flavors seemed somewhat dull and the meat seemed somewhat greasy. I had noted an undesireable mushiness in the vegetables.

To address these issues, I made the following adjustments:
  • To add a deeper meaty flavor, I seared the meat in the pan at the very beginning, instead of parboiling it.
  • To remove greasiness, I deglazed the pan (with the meat in it) and poured out the liquid into a grease separator. I used a part of the defatted liquid for braising liquid for the meat. I also reduced the amount of sesame oil.
  • To add brightness, I reduced the rest of the defatted liquid and added a small dash of red wine vinegar and added this to the cooker when I added the vegetables. I also finished the dish with a bit of lemon and finely minced scallion, the latter of which also added a pleasing visual note.
  • To keep the vegetables from becoming mushy, I added the vegetables in later in the process and cooked them for a shorter time. Last time I had cooked the meat for 11 minutes and then added the vegetables for 9 more minutes. This time, I cooked the meat for 12 minutes then added the vegetables for 8 more minutes.
  • To add a little kick, I added a small handful of whole peppercorns.
  • Even though this wasn't previously thought of as an issue, I switched to boneless short ribs rather than the bone-in ones I had been buying before.

I started cooking at 6pm by putting the rice to cook in the cooker. Total cooking time was about 1 hr, counting prep and most of clean up. There was enough food to serve 4-5 people comfortably.

  • 2.5-3 lbs boneless short rib meat
  • 1 large (or 2 small) onion, cut into big (3/4" to 1") pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press or finely minced (sometimes, I just throw them in smashed and nearly whole, depends on my mood)
  • 10-15 very thin slices ginger (I sliced them across the fibers, so that they formed about 1" rounds)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into big (3/4" to 1") pieces
  • 2 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into big (1/2" to 3/4") pieces
  • a little less than 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 10-20 whole peppercorns
  • cooking oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • lemon
  • red wine vinegar (actually this would be much better with some wine instead, but I didn't want to open a new bottle)
  1. Score each piece twice on each side, making sure to slice across the grain, then salt and pepper liberally.
  2. Sear meat in heavy-bottomed pan which has been preheated over medium-high heat with about half a teaspoon of oil. If your pan is not preheated, then the meat will stick, so be careful. I used the pressure cooker, which so happens to have a nice, heavy bottom. :) Turn over meat pieces when you think the surface has a good sear. You aren't looking for the meat to be cooked through, so don't worry about that.
  3. While the meat is cooking, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and corn syrup in a cup.
  4. Keeping the heat on, add about 1 to 1-1/2 cup of water to the meat in the pan, enough to scrape up all the nice brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. You should hear some crazy sizzling sounds. Let the liquid warm up to a gentle boil, then remove from heat. The hope is that some of the fat from the meat has rendered into the pan and then into the liquid.
  5. Pour out the liquid into a grease separator (or put in a tall container like a cup where you can let the fat rise to the top and skim off). I used a doubled up cheese cloth to strain out the scummy bits from the liquid.
  6. Add about 1/3 cup of the defatted liquid to the sauce.
  7. Add the garlic, half the ginger, half the onions, peppercorns, and the sauce into the cooker containing the meat.
  8. Close up the pressure cooker and turn up the heat. Once it hits the optimal pressure, cook it for 12 minutes. If you are cooking this in the oven or on the stove using a slow-cook method, you should do this part for about 2+ hours.
  9. Put the rest of the defatted liquid in a pan in the stove and reduce on high heat until there is only about 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  10. Chop the rest of the vegetables and clean up in the interim. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I didn't chop the vegetables until I needed them, which is good because there are times of just waiting around.
  11. At the end of 12 minutes, turn off the heat, and release the pressure.
  12. Once the pressure is fully released, add the remaining ingredients: the potatoes, carrots, leftover onions, and leftover ginger. Add the reduced liquid, along with about 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar (or 1/2 cup or so of red wine for maximum deliciousness).
  13. Close up the pressure cooker and turn up the heat. Once it hits the optimal pressure, cook it for 8 minutes. This part would be at least 1-1.5 hours in the oven or in the stove.
  14. At the end of 8 minutes, turn off the heat, release the pressure, then open up the cooker. Turn on the heat to the lowest possible setting, and add the juice of about 1/4 to 1/2 lemon (depending on tartness and size of lemon -- start with 1/4 and adjust) and toss the contents around and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Serve with finely minced scallion and rice. I used a total of three scallions for the entire dish. I actually added the scallions while the dish was still in the pot so that it cooked a bit from the residual heat.

The meat had actually reached a satisfactory level for me, but the vegetables were still a tad bit mushy; the potatoes were not at their optimum creaminess. For next time, I'd shift the cooking time to 14 min for the meat and 6 min after the rest of the vegetables are added, and finish off on the stovetop if the vegetables seem a bit underdone.

Aside from the mushiness, I think the modifications successfully addressed each of the problems we had observed before, but my guess is that the recipe could further be improved by:
  • Using a good dry, acidic red wine & beef stock to deglaze the pan
  • Adding chive oil!
  • Having a really crunchy vegetable to serve as a side dish


Blogger ei-nyung said...

I wonder if lemongrass or leeks might be a good addition to this recipe. Or maybe shallots. Or thyme.

So many choices...

6:57 PM  

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