In Korean, this is called Galbijjim. Since I am not Korean, I do not have a "mom's best" recipe passed to me for these Korean-style braised shortribs. So I did the next best thing and adapted my recipe from David Chang's mom's recipe posted on the GQ site. After I made his version a couple of times I wanted to simplify the ingredients and cooking method for more practical home cooking, so I can make and enjoy it more often of course!
First, I substituted a couple of ingredients that are not necessarily at hand for everyone - the pear juice and sake in the braising liquid. And truthfully there is a second reason for making the sake optional - I think it a bit lavish to use an entire cup of nice sake after already having spent $30+ on the shortribs for a casual weeknight meal for the family. The dish is so flavorful I don't even miss the sake. Second, I found that keeping the pot covered the entire 2 hours whilst in the oven maintained the right level of liquid for me. Third, I eliminated a couple of his steps toward the end. I really didn't want to have to fiddle with it once it went into the oven. Afterall, isn't that the best part about an oven-braise, leaving it alone for a couple of hours while you forget about it and do something else? So the veggies get tossed in upfront and there is no taking the meat out and reducing the liquid and all that either - imma let the science of heat x evaporation handle that for me. Finally, I omitted the potatoes because I am simply not a carb-on-carb kind of person and you KNOW I'm going to be pouring that sauce all over steamed rice which will just suck it all up. Yum. O.
I can't tell you if my version is still authentic but the result is undeniably delicious: fall-off-the-bone meat that is tender yet still has some "toothiness" (not overly soft) featuring the sticky sweet soy flavors signature to this Korean dish.
2-3 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
3 lbs bone-in beef shortribs, cut across the bone into 2-3" pieces (about 17-20 bones)
1 large onion, rough chopped
3-4 carrots (~ 1/2 lb), chopped into large 1" chunks
Salt to taste
1/4 C scallions (aka green onions or spring onions), chopped into 1" pieces
For the Braising Liquid
1 C pear or apple juice
2/3 C sake (or water! see headnote about my substitutions)
2/3 C mirin (aka sweet japanese rice wine)
1/3 C granulated sugar
2/3 C tamari (or light soy sauce if not gluten-intolerant)
2 tsp chopped garlic
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp sesame oil
1. Preheat oven to 350f.
2. On the stove top, heat a large cast iron pot (or heavy-bottomed pot) over medium heat. Season the short-ribs with salt but do so judiciously keeping in mind the braising liquid is already quite salty. While the pot is preheating, combine all the ingredients for the braising liquid into a small pot over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and set aside.
3. Add the oil to the large cast iron pot and start browning the shortribs, in a single layer, on all sides. Do not rush this step! Allow the shortribs to get to a dark char-y brown which takes about 3-5 minutes each side. When you take your time with this, you are rewarded with tender meat in the finished dish and a flavorful "fond" (those delicious bits left at the bottom of the pot) that adds depth to the sauce. Tip: When browning the narrow sides of the shortribs, I find it easiest to lean them up against the side of the pot (bonus is they're actually getting browned on 2 sides simultaneously when you do that, saving time). Set the done pieces off to the side -- I always flip the pot lid upside down with the flat side facing up and put my browned meat on top because I will literally do ANYTHING to wash fewer dishes. Continue browning until all the meat has been seared a nice color on all sides. Just look at the yummy pictures of my meat down below.
Wait, that came out all weird.
4. Toss in the chopped onions, carrots and scallions. Sprinkle with salt and saute for a minute, stirring it around to pick up all the fond. Yum.
5. Place the shortribs back into the pot, bone side up. Add the braising liquid. When doing a braise of any kind, the liquid should come to approximately three-quarter up the meat & vegetables. If you have less than that, simply top up with water until you get to roughly three-quarter high.
6. Put the pot lid on and place it in the preheated oven for about 2 to 2.5hrs, or until desired doneness. My personal preference when it comes to shortribs is meat that is just starting to falling off the bone (but not completely) and the meat itself is tender yet retains some chewiness. As for the liquid, at the end of the 2 hrs it should have reduced down to about one-half the original amount and thickened slightly. If yours is not a heavy-lidded pot then check liquid level sooner (because the liquid will evaporate faster). If you wish to cook the meat further for a softer texture, continue with lid on in the oven for up to 30-45 min longer, just being sure to check the liquid level and add water as needed. Serve over steamed rice.