Tuesdays and Saturdays. Those were the only days of the week beef was sold in the market, in the little town where I grew up.
“You cannot make a mistake when you cook beef,” my late Mom admonished me.I was still a child then, and had started to learn how to cook. And so with the patience of a saint, I tried very hard to learn from my Mom how to cook beef properly and serve it with as much relish as I could muster.
I grew up in a small rural, agricultural town called Tarlac in the Philippines. I remember BEEF was only sold twice a week in the market. There was only one market in town. And there was only one cow slaughtered on Tuesday. And another one on Saturday, for the weekend shoppers.
Beef was an expensive commodity in a third world country, and not easily available or affordable. Thus, when we bought it once a week, my Mom made sure she cooked it with a lot of care and only the best recipes, handed down from generations were used.
“Slow fire gives the best results, always,” said my Mom to me, when she was giving me cooking tips. To this day, I follow that “SLOW FIRE” method when I cook beef in stew or casserole recipes. I follow it to the last onion slice, as though my late Mom was still there, looking over my shoulders. When the beef chunks are simmering and sizzling in my large cauldrons, I can tell by the beefy smells , hearty scents and the smoky vapors rising to the ceiling, how much longer the meat needs to cook.
Times have changed. My sleepy hometown of Tarlac is now a bustling city, and to date, has even produced 2 Philippine presidents. And yes, they now sell beef in the market everyday. Another proof of progress and economic growth.
As for me, I now live more than 20,000 miles away here in America.We buy beef often for family meals. And I delight in finding different recipes to try. But my Mom’s spirit and love of cooking lives in me. I keep hearing her voice whenever I am preparing and cooking beef “Slow fire….”. This method never fails to yield the best beef dishes. They turn out tender, succulent, falling off the bone, with the fragrant seared beef aroma allover, and absolutely ‘Mom-approved’ !
ASIAN-STYLE BEEF SHORT RIBS with ORANGE FLAVORS
* Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse
4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
6 cups water, or enough to cover ribs in casserole
1/2 cup slice green onion bottoms, white part only
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind, for serving
Sliced green onion tops, for garnish
Slices of fresh orange, for garnish
Jasmine rice, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a wide stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the short ribs, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, water, green onion bottoms, orange juice, salt and pepper. Make sure the pot is deep enough and the liquid is enough to cover the ribs.
- Cover the pot with heavy foil or its own lid if available. Bake the short ribs, at 350 degrees for 2 and 1/2 hours. By then, the meat will be tender and almost falling off the bone. If you can, check on short ribs in the middle of cooking to make sure the casserole is not burning. The sugar content will make the meat darker.
- Once the meat is tender, drain the fat off the cooking liquid and discard. Place the remaining braising juices in a medium saucepan with the hoisin sauce. Boil this over medium heat. Reduce the liquid. If needed, strain through a sieve to smoothen sauce and discard solids. To this mixture, stir in the lemon juice.
- Return the short ribs and reduced sauce to the stockpot. Bake for 10 minutes more in 350 degrees. The ribs will be glazed with the sauce.
- To serve: garnish with orange slices, zest and scallions. Serve with jasmine rice.
COMMENTS: I have made this Short Ribs recipe several times. I’ve found that cooking it in about 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours is enough to soften the beef. If longer than this, the tendency is for the meat to burn, due to the sugar content. Also, if the soy sauce you are using is salty enough, omit the salt indicated.
Hoisin sauce and soy sauce are available in most major supermarkets or Asian groceries.