Soy-Braised Beef Shanks
I just got back from a family get together in California. It’s going to take me a while to get used to this cold weather in NYC – highs in the 30’s today. That’s way too cold for this wimpy, west coast transplant. And when the temperatures start falling, I only crave hot or warm foods. No cold salads for me in the winter.
I love braised meats in particular. I could have a nice, comforting braised meat dish everyday. When I got back, the first thing I craved was galbi jjim (Korean-style braised short ribs). The dish is perfect for a chilly winter day. And it’s perfect for a weekend get together with friends or family. It doesn’t require a lot of active cooking time. You can just let it simmer for hours while you entertain your guests. While it simmers, it will warm up your room and fill it up with the most wonderful, comforting aroma. My husband says it feels and smells like home.
I made this dish with beef shanks, instead of short ribs, because my butcher didn’t have any grass-fed short ribs. I actually prefer the beef shank. I especially love the bone marrow. The gelatinous substance flavors and thickens up the soup. You can also choose to scrape the marrow out and mix it in with rice or spread it on bread. It’s so rich and delicious. And even though the marrow is quite fatty, it doesn’t contain any saturated fat. It is also a source of protein, iron, and calcium. Keep in mind tho, it is still fat. So treat it as a once-in-a-while indulgence. Believe me. It’s a worthy indulgence.
Korean Soy-Braised Beef Shanks Recipe
Makes 4 servings
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 lbs beef shanks
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
3 cups of water
5 garlic cloves, chopped loosely
1/4 TB dry sherry
1/2 cup tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
2 TB sesame oil
3 TB agave nectar or 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 lb daikon, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cylinders
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cylinders
1/2 – 3/4 lb potato(es), cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 (~ 4 oz.) basket button mushrooms, quartered
2 green onions, (white part for braise + green part for garnish)
- In a large pot, soak the beef shanks in cold water for about 30 minutes. After soaking, bring the shanks to a boil. Boil for about 15 minutes. You will see brown foam float to the top. Discard the water. Clean off the shanks of any brown foam and bone chips (if any). Wipe out the pot and place the shanks back in the pot.
- In a bowl, stir together 3 cups of water, dry sherry, tamari, agave nectar (or sugar), garlic, sesame oil, green onions (ONLY white parts if using), and onions. Add the mixture along with the daikons to the pot. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow it to simmer for about 2 hours. Add additional water as necessary to replace any liquid lost through vaporization.
- Stir in carrots and potatoes. Cover and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.
- Throw in the mushrooms if using. Uncover and allow it to simmer until the sauce reduces/thickens. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve hot with steamed rice, mashed potatoes, or creamy polenta.
You can use a pressure cooker and cut cooking time by half.
You can substitute short ribs or brisket in place of beef shanks.
If you can’t find daikons, just skip it and slightly increase the amount of other vegetables in the recipe. But keep in mind that daikons impart a lovely flavor to the dish. Additionally, they can be braised for hours without breaking down or losing their shape (unlike potatoes or carrots). So they can be thrown in with the beef at the beginning part of the cooking process to absorb all of the delicious flavors of the dish.