Flanken Short Ribs

As we make the final recipe selections for my book, Linda Andreotti’s Galley, I’m being asked about the style or type of my cooking.  Honestly, I can’t give a simple answer.  When I began to cook seriously, I was heavily influenced by John and his mother, and the book therefore includes many Italian recipes.  However, a lot of modern fusion cooking originated here in Southern California and we see cuisines of all kinds and all mixes. I experiment with these different ‘schools’ and I’m learning all the time. The Flanken Short Rib recipe I’m posting this week has an Asian feel to it.

So, to answer the ‘what style?’ question, I can only say … Poseidon Style.  My style.  I hope you enjoy it and I’ll welcome any and all comments.

‘Flanken’ defines ribs cut across the rib rather than along it, where ribs cut parallel to the bone are often referred to as ‘English cut.’ A genuine flanken should come from the first five ribs of the ribcage and each flanken ‘strip’ has several small bone nuggets within it.  The word ‘flanken’ appears to come from Old French, via Yiddish and, somewhere along the way, acquired the implication that the ribs were boiled.  With a few notable exceptions – New England Boiled Dinner, for example – boiling a fine piece of meat is anathema to me but I can see that those ‘back in the day’ cooks were probably struggling with very tough meat!  Today, we can deal with that potential toughness by braising ribs, sometimes for hours, and you’ll find a lot of braised rib recipes out there.

In the recipe that follows, the ribs are barbecued or broiled – fast – and the price you pay for that is that the rarer meat does not fall off the bone.  It has a marginal toughness to it but, on Poseidon, we like that texture and think it’s a tiny price to pay for a piece of taste heaven.

We first cooked this dish on a cold night in the harbor, the sea lions thrashing all around us as they chased abundant harbor fish.  There seemed to be more sea lions around us than around any other boat.  Were they jonesing for our Flanken Short Ribs?

For this recipe You’ll need:Flanken Steak

3 ½ lbs flanken cut short ribs (maybe six pieces about an inch thick)

And for the marinade:
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup white wine
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 can crushed roasted tomatoes (or, if you’re cooking in English  English, a tin)
4 whole star anise
3 peeled and smashed garlic cloves
A piece of peeled and smashed ginger about an inch long
2 scallions cut in 3” lengths
1 scallion chopped and reserved for garnish

Marinate the ribs for eight hours or more, in the fridge,  Remove the ribs from the fridge and let them come to room temperature.

While the ribs are reaching room temperature, reduce the marinade.  This is a vital step, not to be skipped if you want to extract the maximum Delicious Factor from this recipe! So … strain the marinade into a small saucepan, discarding what remains in the strainer.  Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer, reducing to a thick, smooth sauce.

Set the barbecue to high heat and, when it’s ready, grill the ribs – three minutes a side for medium rare, more or less time to taste.

To serve, place the ribs on a plate, drizzle with the sauce and garnish with chopped scallions.

I like to accompany this dish with creamy mashed potatoes and kohlrabi.

John’s Wine Choice:
To pair a wine with this particularly flavorful dish I wanted to choose a powerful Zinfandel from one of our “Local Wineries” which, as you may remember, are those located within 150 to 200 miles of our harbor in Ventura. (In keeping with our Eat and Drink Local policy, we decided long ago to concentrate on wines from these areas and we try to keep 100 or so bottles of different varieties and vintages from this general area aboard Poseidon.)

A search of the wine storage areas couldn’t produce a single bottle of a rich, big Zin which might stand up to the powerful flavors of the flanken ribs. However, on a dusty shelf way in the back, I discovered a forgotten bottle that I believed would work: a 1998 Cosentino M. Coz Meritage, made from Bordeaux blend.

We picked up two bottles of this blend, at the winery in St Helena some years ago, drank a bottle of it about three years ago and noted in the wine log that it was quite good, flavorful, dark, fruity with a long finish – and that we should drink the other one in the near future as it was probably at its optimum. Well, those three years passed all too fast and here we were opening it now.

It was still delicious, berry-like, intense and very drinkable. It had a brilliant color, tastes of spice – a lingering aroma and the smoothness that aging produces. Its varieties of taste and its intensity seemed to us to complement the star anise and the other Asian-influenced ingredients. More time in the bottle, especially on the boat, which is not perfect for wine storage, would probably have seen some of the complementary flavors fade. This wonderful wine might then have gone beyond its ideal life.

It proved to be an excellent wine for the Flanken Ribs.