I’ve had my sous vide setup running for a few weeks now. My homebuilt controller has been put through its paces holding temp on my espresso machine, rice cooker, and crock pot. The VP112 has also been going strong, quick pickling veggies and bagging things for storage. However, other than one massive rib eye and the EMP Beef Tenderloin, neither of which took more than 3.5 hours, I hadn’t really taken advantage of the long, super slow cooking potential of the setup, but after walking into my local butcher shop and seeing some beautifully marbled short ribs, I knew it was time to start.
The basic recipe is the same as in my kalbi post (which is a delicious alternative for those of you without a sous vide setup).
2 – 3 Meaty Short Ribs cut into thirds
2.5 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Usukuchi
1/2 Cup Apple Juice
3 Tablespoons Mirin
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
1/2 Medium Onion chopped
1 Small Carrot chopped
3 Scallions sliced
6 Cloves of Garlic crushed
Combine the braising liquid ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Turn head down and allow to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Strain out the solids and discard.
After the liquid had cooled (I used a steel bowl resting in an ice bath to speed the process), I added half a cup of liquid, along with a short rib segment to a vacuum bag and sealed. This is where a chamber sealer really shines as it allows you to seal liquids without the mess of an edge sealer. I completely understand those of you reading who are saying to themselves ‘look here Griffin – I’m not spending $560 on a VP112, but I have a sous vide setup with an edge sealer and want to make this. Any helpful tips for me?’ For you I offer the one tip I know for edge sealers; freeze first. Simply freeze the braising liquid in ice cube trays before adding to the bag with the rib segments and then seal. This should help avoid dealing with the vacuum sucking out the liquid while sealing.
After the bags were sealed up, it was into the bath for the next two days. Admittedly, I was a little nervous that my home made controller box my not be up to the task, however I was pleasantly surprised 24 hours into the process when I felt the box and it remained cool to the touch.
Another 24 hours and the ribs were good to go. I removed the ribs from the bag, draining the liquid directly into a saucepan for reduction. Do not lose a drop of this stuff as once it’s reduced, it becomes absolute gold. As with any sous vide meat application, after cooking, the meat is not super appetizing. It tends to be a bit discolored and slimy to the touch. Not something you want to serve to guests.
Chefs typically solve this problem by doing a final exterior cooking process, typically searing, however for this application, David Chang advocates deep frying. I experimented with several different temperatures ranging from 320 to 370 for frying, and ultimately decided I liked the results around 350 for 15 – 45 seconds. As the rib is already perfectly cooked, this step is simply to crisp up the exterior giving a nice texture and more appetizing appearance. Don’t over do it here as you can ruin the result you worked 48 hours to earn. As a side note, I’m thinking I’m going to try a reverse sear method on my next steak, roasting first to remove moisture and cook the center before deep frying for a perfect crust, but that’s another post.
The results of the sous vide and deep fry combo were fantastic! Unlike standard braising which can often leave a mushy piece of rib that, while tender and delicious, lacks a certain structural rigidity, the ribs here were firm, yet incredibly tender, with a nice crusty exterior. Absolute perfection.
The final step was plating. I wanted to do a proper presentation, as outlined in the Momofuku cookbook, but I also wanted to put my own twist on the dish.
The classical presentation places a spoonful of the reduced braising liquid on the plat, and adds a chunk of dashi braised daikon (which tastes great but smells terrible when cooking). A small spoonful of pickled mustard seeds (which are a great textural element) are then added on top of the daikon, a pickled carrot (omitted here) is nestled up against the daikon, and a blanched scallion is laid down across the plate. The rib slices are then sliced and fanned out next to the carrot, with the scallion draped over the rib slices. I really like this presentation, but wanted to do something more ‘steakhousey’. Something that really points out that the short rib is really a deliciously marbled rib cut in disguise, and that with a little work, it can be as good as any steak you’ve ever had.
For that reason, I chose to do what I felt was a play on the classic steak, topped with fried onions, on top of mashed potatoes (is that actually a classic? I’m not sure to be honest, but it made sense in my head when conceptualizing the dish). I replaced the onion with some burdock / gobo root ribbons and substituted a puree of celery root and summer squash instead of mashed potatoes. While I wanted to do a sprinkling of yuzu zest, yuzu is surprisingly hard to find, so instead I went with some scallion ribbons for color.
I’m pretty pleased with how everything looks aesthetically, and flavorwise, this is one of the best things I’ve had since my orecchiette. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.