These Asian Style Short Ribs are braised in the slow cooker until the meat is fall-apart tender and infused with classic Asian flavors. Serve them with a crunchy Daikon salad for an easy and impressive winter meal.
Remember that slow cooker I bought back in December? Despite my fears that it might become another dust-gatherer on my countertop, we’ve become good friends this winter. Throughout the unending stream of polar vortexes and snowstorms Mother Nature has unleashed on the Northeast, my trusty slow cooker has been at the ready with warm, comforting, house-filling aromas. At the very least, anticipating the grand lid removal at the end of a day spent cooped up in the house kept me amused enough to avoid cabin fever.
I’ll be honest: not all of the slow-cooker recipes I’ve tried have called out the cheer squad in my house. The flavors of my Lasagna Bolognese, for instance, were incredibly well-developed from the minute I lifted the lid (think second-day flavor), but the noodles were far too soft. (Three scoopable, messy lasagnas later, I threw in the towel and decided to stick with the oven. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) Other dishes have found their way into my bookmarked recipe list: A delicious Ratatouille that was enjoyed for days (and cleared out the vegetable bin!), Mushroom Barley Soup, and this recipe from Brigit Binns’ The New Slow Cooker (Williams-Sonoma) for Asian Style Short Ribs.
Binns ups the flavor ante in this dish by browning the short ribs under the broiler before braising in the slow-cooker. Broiling not only gives the meat itself a more well-developed flavor, but also lends some pretty delicious drippings to the braising liquid, and eventual sauce. (Not to mention that the aroma of toasted Chinese five spice powder is a treat in and of itself.) Eight hours after being stacked into the slow cooker, the short ribs were tender, moist, and falling off the bone. Add the accompanying salad, and I was enjoying dinner so much that I nearly forgot about the mounds of snow piling up outside of my door.
Speaking of the salad, if there’s one theme to Binns’ slow cooker approach, it’s this: awaken the flavors of slow-cooked food with something fresh upon plating—a vegetable, a unique salad, or even just a handful of chopped herbs. It’s a simple notion, but one that’s absent from so many slow cooker recipes. Here, Binns recommends a Daikon (Asian radish) and Carrot Salad with a light peanut vinaigrette. The salad cut through the richness of the short ribs and turned what might’ve been a “good” dish into a delicious meal.
With a book full of slow cooker recipes still left to explore (Orange-Braised Pork, anyone?), I might almost be ok with the latest weather models showing another whammy of a snow event heading its way up the coast next week. Almost.
Asian Style Short Ribs with Daikon Salad
Adapted from Brigit Binns, The New Slow Cooker (Williams-Sonoma)
For the Short Ribs:
- 3 pounds beef short ribs, English cut*
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
For the Daikon Salad:
- 1 large daikon, approx. 3/4 pound, peeled
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Make the Short Ribs
Trim the short ribs of excess fat. Season the ribs on all sides with the salt, pepper, and five-spice powder.
Preheat your oven's broiler and place rack in upper-middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on the lined sheet and arrange short ribs in a single layer. Broil 8-10 minutes on each side, turning when browned and sizzling.
Combine Hoisin, ketchup, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, onion, ginger and garlic in the insert of a slow cooker. Add the broiled ribs, and toss gently until ribs are coated with braising liquid on all sides. If arranging ribs in more than one layer, place thicker cuts at the bottom. Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW until the meat is tender, 7-8 hours.
Remove short ribs from the slow cooker and transfer to a serving platter. Tent with foil to keep warm. Skim braising liquid of fat (or strain in a gravy separator). Pour a few tablespoons of the sauce over the short ribs and serve immediately, topped with Daikon-Carrot Salad and chopped peanuts.
Make the Daikon-Carrot Salad
Shred daikon and carrots on the large holes of a box grater. Place daikon in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and drain for 10-15 minutes to remove excess liquid. Discard liquid and toss drained daikon carrots, shallot, and cilantro in a bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together peanut oil and 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar. When ready to serve, pour over salad and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt.
*English-cut are the shorter, fatter-looking short ribs you'll find in the butcher case (as compared to "flanken-cut," which are longer and flatter.)