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Why This Recipe Works

Tender braised short ribs make for a warm, hearty dinner on a cold day. For a new take on this classic, we turned to a distinctly Korean flavor profile that would combine sweet and savory ingredients for a hands-off meal. To eliminate an all-day wait for dinner, we used boneless short ribs, which cook faster than bone-in; this trick also helped reduce the amount of fat rendered from the meat. After browning the meat first, we deglazed the pan with sake, enhancing the dish’s flavor profile. We knew that pear is often used in Korean beef marinades as a tenderizer, so we tried it here. The pear also balanced the acidity of the rice vinegar, adding sweetness and subtle fruit flavor. Pairing them with soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil yielded an intense sauce with lots of umami. To round out our dinner, we steamed some baby bok choy atop the beef until just tender, and then drizzled both with the cornstarch-thickened sauce.

Serves 6
Total Time: 3 hours

Serve with white rice.

1 pear, peeled, halved, cored, and chopped coarse
½ cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3½ pounds boneless English-style short ribs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped  fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup sake
4 heads baby bok choy (2 to 3 ounces each), halved
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Process pear, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and rice vinegar in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds.

2. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of beef and brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes; transfer to large plate. Repeat with remaining beef.

3. Add onion to fat left in pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in sake and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in pear mixture and browned beef and any accumulated juices and bring to simmer. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and cook until tender, 2 to 2½ hours.

4. Remove pot from oven, uncover, and place steamer basket on top of meat. Add bok choy to steamer, cover pot, and continue to cook in oven until bok choy is tender, 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Remove pot from oven. Remove basket of bok choy from pot and transfer bok choy to platter. Transfer beef to platter and tent with aluminum foil. Strain braising liquid through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, discarding solids, then defat liquid.

6. Combine ¼ cup defatted liquid with cornstarch in bowl. Return remaining liquid to simmer in now-empty pot over medium heat. Whisk cornstarch mixture to combine, then whisk into simmering liquid in pot and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve short ribs and bok choy, passing sauce separately.

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