Friday, September 24, 2010

Flanken Cut Beef Short Ribs

When I was in graduate school in Chicago I shared a room with a guy from South Korea. He was almost evangelical about Korean food and insisted on sharing his homeland's cuisine with everyone he met. He took me to a Korean restaurant and ordered egg roe soup. I was supposed to think it was delicious. If you replace the word "delicious" with "absolutely disgusting" then, yes, it was delicious.

After that experience I was not inclined to eat anything Sung offered to feed me. But when he spoke of Korean BBQ, I had to relent and give it a try. Sure, there was a possibility that it would include rotten cabbage or something similarly putrid but BBQ is BBQ, so I gave him a chance.

He started off with Flanken cut beef short ribs and marined them in some sort of soy sauce garlic mixture that smelled much better than I thought it would. After marinating the ribs he cooked them quickly over a small grill and served them with lettuce leaves.

I ate so much I thought I needed to purge. To this day those ribs are the highwater mark for me and my understanding of "good grilled meat." Until yesterday I thought I'd never be able to reproduce that wonderful evening with ribs, lettuce, and shattered misconceptions. But like my understanding of Korean food, my belief that I couldn't cook good Korean style ribs has undergone a serious transformation.

Here's what I did:

I found Flanken cut beef ribs at Sam's Club, then I paid for them. Easy enough.

I made a marinade with:

1/2 c. soy sauce

1/4 c. water

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil

several cloves of garlic

I marinated the ribs for a couple hours on the advice of John "Chez" Eddy - who warned me that if I marinated them too long they would probably get overly salty. Then I grilled them for a couple of minutes over medium heat. These things are cut thin so it would be easy to overcook them. I wanted to err on the side of underdone and I'm glad I did.

They turned out something like this (the photo isn't mine, I borrowed it from - I also lifted the picture of the ribs from My apologies to the hardworking photographers who took these pics. Perhaps you can visit those pages and see the photos for yourself!):

Last night I relived that evening in Chicago so many years ago. I ate until I was nearly sick and I kept looking to my wife for affirmation. "Aren't these ribs great?" But I never heard her response. I was only interested in more ribs and I'm pretty sure she was more interested in finding another husband!