David Chang’s Short Ribs

Soon after starting my blog, I discovered sous vide, and knew I had to own a machine. Because it was a big purchase, I asked for one as a Christmas present. I won’t complain about how many years it took for me to get one, because I now have one and use it constantly. Even more than I thought I would. Thank you Santa.

I especially love it for “inferior” cuts of beef like brisket, hanger and flank steaks. Often I sous vide pork loin and chicken breasts. I can cook all of these meats “properly,” but their sous vide counterparts can’t be beat with traditional methods in my opinion.

Which brings me to short ribs. For some reason, I’ve never thought to sous vide them. I think because I always enjoy the process of making short ribs, sometimes in a traditional way with red wine and herbs, other times with Southwestern adobo flavors. I’ve also used short ribs in a sauce for giant pasta, and in cheesy sandwiches with pickled onions. The rib meat has many uses.

Then I read Momofuku, by David Chang. Published in 2009, it tells the delightful story of David Chang, who at 27, opened his first restaurant, Momofuku.

As I read through the book, which covered recipes from each of his four restaurants, the three others being Ko, Momofuku Milk Bar, and Ssäm Bar, I realized these were recipes that I would not be making. However, the stories are hysterical, scary, on-the-edge-of-your seat crazy about life as a restaurant owner.

Then I came across his recipe for sous vide short ribs that really intrigued me.

From the book: “Low-temperature cooking affords cooks an accuracy and a measure of control over the oneness of meat that we have only dreamed about since humans first witnessed the marriage of meat and fire.”

When he first was exposed to sous vide cooking at a restaurant, David Chang originally thought that it was a “cop out,” a way to not really have to know how to cook a steak.

“Then, I grew up a little bit and came to realize that sous vide cooking is amazing magic. (Or at least it can be; all good techniques can be poorly used.)”

But I don’t think he realizes the sous vide options for the home cook.

In Momofuku he writes: “This recipe is not a reasonable proposition for the home cook unless you are willing to buy a vacuum-sealing machine and fabricate a water circulator situation. And even then, 48 hours is a world of time to cook something.”

This is a photo of my sous vide, which has gone up only a little in price over the years. I like it because it’s a smaller size; perfect for a small family.

Now, Mr. Chang is right in his opinion that you can’t just set your sous vide and leave town. I sometimes worry that my electricity will go out during sous vide’ing. I’m lucky it hasn’t. But maybe it’s the 9 years since his book was published, that sous vide has made it into home kitchens, thankfully.

So the only thing that I hesitated about following David Chang’s short rib recipe was his suggested accompaniments to the short ribs: dashi-braised daikon, pickled carrots, and pickled mustard seeds. Not the prospect of cooking meat for 48 hours.

David Chang’s Short Ribs

2 2/3 cups water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pear juice
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon apple juice
2 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
10 grinds black pepper
1/2 small onion, 1/2 small carrot
3 scallions, whites only
2 garlic cloves
8 pieces bone-in short ribs, trimmed

Combine the water, soy, pear and apple juices, mirin, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, onion, carrot, scallions, and garlic in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers gently and cook for 10 minutes.

Strain the solids out of the marinade and cool it in the refrigerator.

Combine each short rib with 1/2 cup marinade in a vacuum-sealable bag and seal it. Then seal the bagged rib in a second bag.

Set your sous vide to 140.2 degrees F. Add the bags of ribs and cook for 48 hours.

When the ribs are done, remove them from the water and plunge the bags into a large bowl of ice water. Refrigerate the bags.

Cut the ribs out of their bags over a mixing bowl to catch the braising liquid; set the ribs aside.

Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over hi heat and reduce it until you have about 2 cups, no more than 10 minutes. Reserve.

Slide the bones out of the short ribs. Trim off any large, obvious pieces of fat, and trim the ribs into neat cubes or rectangles.

Prepare a skillet over high heat with a little grape seed oil. Sear the ribs on all sides, repeat batches.

When ready to serve, put a couple of tablespoons of the reduction in the center of the plate and top with the ribs.

Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Oh these ribs!

I knew the rib meat would be tender, but the flavors!!! You can taste every ingredient in the marinade.

And the liquid is fabulous. I actually strained it twice. I’ll be making these ribs again. Thanks David.

60 thoughts on “David Chang’s Short Ribs

  • Looks amazing, Mimi.

    I actually have a self made sous vide as I need a huge one for mass catering. I bought one of the thermo sticks and a 25l polycarbonate tub. I then cook loads of stuff at once. If using at home I’ll just use it with the pressure cooker.

  • Haven’t made short ribs in sous vide, the longest I cooked was about 24hours, if I remember correctly, a brisket – turned out excellent. I love my sous-vide, and like you, use it all the time. Even as a pre-step for stir fries, which might be my next post coming up, not sure yet… too many things waiting on line!


    • So much food, so little time! I do brisket and flank steak at 135 degrees for 48 hours, and they always come out perfectly. I was worried about doing the short ribs in marinade, as I don’t have a chamber vacuum sealer – yet – but we didn’t die!

  • Mimi, who would of known you were a closet sous vider. My son, who is in the restaurant business has been trying to convince me I need a sous vide circulator. He says it’s like resisting the microwave when it came out. Well, your post has pushed me to the sous vide side. It’s now going be top on my Christmas list.

    • You will love it. It’s a miracle worker! I’m not totally in the closet, but I like my blog to get people in to the kitchen, not scare them out of it!

  • Mimi – I have a friend who keeps asking whether I have a sous vide yet. You’re doing a good job convincing me I need one. This dish looks amazingly lovely and flavorful!

    • My husband wasn’t convinced I really needed one, so I had to wait on Santa a few years, but now he’s really happy that we have one! They’re magical.

    • There isn’t. It’s crazy. If I only used it for chicken breasts, pork loin, flank steak, and brisket for the rest of my life I’d be happy!

  • I have been working on a sous vide recipe for short ribs and I am going to ‘borrow’ the idea of double sealing. I agree not many people can afford a sous vide cooker at home, but I use mine every few days so it is worth it for sure.

    • And actually, if people could buy one, it would be cost effective within months by cooking inexpensive cuts of meat. The double sealing idea is smart!

  • Ah a sous vide. There are many things I want. This is one. But Lynne tells me we need a bigger house first! Even though yours is a delightfully small version. I’ll just have to dream and look at your delicious photographs instead. Beautiful recipe.

    • I understand. It’s still another piece of equipment. Although one I never have regret buying. The deep fryer. – yes, although I’ve never used it!

  • I love short ribs. You mentioned pairing them with pasta – that’s actually one of my faves. I’ve been wanting to sous vide for quite some time, and seriously though about buying a machine. So clever to ask for one for Christmas! I already have a vacuum sealer, so I’m part of the way there. Like you, I fee like I can cook meat pretty well, but you’re not the only one who can also do that, but still raves about sous vide. I’ve got my eye on one of the types you stick into your own container. What would be the advantages of having a unit like yours instead of that type?

    • I think cost and storage space are the two main factors, but I know nothing about those beyond that. The Demi suits the two of us just fine. I just sous vide’d 3 flank steaks for brunch after Thanksgiving. I can cook good flank steak, and don’t mind its chewiness, but when it’s sous vide’d it’s like butter. I will never sous vide pork tenderloin, or a filet mignon, because that seems silly to me. But then, Stefan would probably tell me I should. He made me sous vide salmon before, and there was such a difference. Not such a difference that I will never cook salmon in my little skillet with butter ever again…. I’m not helping, am i?

  • That’s a wonderful cookbook! And great recipe — I’ve looked at it, but never made it. I really do need to get a sous vide — I keep thinking about it, but haven’t because of space restrictions. But everything I’ve ever had that was made in one of those machines has been marvelous. Terrific post — thanks.

    • In Oklahoma we don’t know what space restrictions mean!!! Outside and inside. They’re just magical machines.

    • Hahahahaha! I understand! Planning ahead is just filling the thing up with water and setting it to the temp,putting in the meat, and setting the timer. So it’s like bread rising. It’s a non activity!

  • Interesting! Like you, I’m all in on sous vide. In fact, I refer to our sous vide cooker as magic! But I must admit that I’ve never tried to sous vide short ribs. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible! And 48 hours!? Woah. I bet these short ribs are melt-in-your-mouth good, Mimi!

    • They were incredible, but the flavor from the marinade was incredible. I also sous vide brisket and flank stead for 48 hours, but at 135 degrees. Stefan from Stefan Gourmet has been my guide and mentor since I first decided I wanted one, and he’s a great resource, if you don’t know of him yet.

  • I am slowly learning about Sous Vide cooking, it sounds like a lot of trouble to me, especially this recipe, but I know people rave about this method. My favorite way to cook short ribs is in the slow cooker…I will continue to watch and learn, thanks for your professional description

    • Don’t let this recipe influence you. Typically I sprinkle salt or a spice rub on a flank steak, seal it, stick it in the water, and ignore it until the time is up. Don’t quit cooking short ribs the way you do. It’s hard to explain the difference in the results, but they’re significant.

  • Yummmm, but shame on me as I don’t own a sous vide machine nor had I tried short ribs till last week. They were braised in a tamarind sauce on a bed of pureed parsnips. Wow, they were melt in your mouth delicious. When I checked the recipe for short ribs, I figured I could easily make them in the future, even though we try to stay away from red meats. Yours looks divine; a nice glass of red with it and I’d be a happy camper. :)

    • If short ribs are cooked correctly, as with any meat, they are fabulous. Tender and velvety. No one must have a sous vide, but the difference is truly indescribable !

  • I’ve been put on a diet… a kitchen gadget diet. Sadly, it’s a starvation diet. It will take a lot of doing for me to go try sous vide route, although I love everything that has come out of one, down to poached eggs! These ribs look amazing, and I just got the book after you recommended it before. (So far, the moratorium has not included cookbooks!)

  • I have this cookbook and have yet to cook anything from it. I’ve taught sous vide at Williams Sonoma years ago and it was with an appliance like yours. Now there are simpler version that are merely a stick that you put into water. I have a client that has one and his dishes he claims come out incredible. I can’t recall the name of that one. I’ve never purchased one myself because I just don’t know that I’d use it much but the meat definitely comes out moist and flavorful. This recipe looks tasty!

    • I understand all of that. I think I’ll always stick with my all-in-one appliance because it’s contained. The only bad thing that could happen is the electricity going out. I’m not sure about the stick in the pot with water idea, but I know it works also. I took a risk making these short ribs because I don’t have a chamber vacuum sealer, which hopefully I’m getting for Christmas. I just submerged the heck out of them with heavy objects, and nobody died! The appliance is so good for inferior cuts. That’s all I can really say. But then, it also is incredible for, say, salmon filets, which I think I can cook perfectly! It’s truly magical.

  • Have never gotten into the sous vide, but I do love that cookbook and I do love short ribs. And most of Chang’s restaurants. The Christmas day meal we had at Ko back in 2010 (Snowmageddon!) was so great.

  • I keep seeing sous vide mentioned but didn’t really know what it is. Love your explanation. And after seeing your short ribs – especially the photo where you’re pouring the sauce on – I think I might just have to save up and get one!

    • It’s a magical piece of equipment. I guess some would say that about an instapot, but I’d never get one. Maybe because I’m retired, no kids at home, and my meals aren’t about fast and easy. I use the sous vide often, it just cooks protein so differently.

  • Mimi, this sounds (and looks) absolutely mouthwatering! Your pics are gorgeous! I didn’t get my WP snow this year (maybe coz I’m on a business plan now,) but yours looks great on your merry background!


  • I’m with you Mimi. I was put onto Sous Vide cooking a few years ago by a friend of mine and have never looked back. Now that I have redesigned my butlers pantry it is permanently set up, where previously I had it put away in a cupboard, and I am using it more. I have made short ribs but will definitely be trying this recipe. I love David Chang’s wicked sense of humour and approach to food and cooking and I couldn’t devour ‘Ugly Delicious’ quick enough when it was released this year.

    • Yeah, great show! My sous vide is in the pantry – the only appliance in there. I use it so much more than I even thought i would. My husband dragged his feet for a few years… I’d asked for it for Christmas. But now he’s super thrilled with what magic it makes!

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