Grilling Season – Maui Style Short Ribs & Broccoli Slaw

Every 2 years, Jodie’s relatives on the Hawaiian Islands throw a family reunion in Oahu. We can’t afford to go every year, but I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a couple of times now. It’s always been an amazingly fun experience.

As with most family reunions, food plays a central role. The week of events always kick off with a BBQ on the beach of Waikiki with family members all taking their turn on the grill. There are those strangely pink Hawaiian hot dogs, chicken, burgers, and, of course, teriyaki short ribs. (While the reunion takes place on Oahu, the most common name for these ribs are Maui Style Short Ribs. They are also sometimes referred to as Kalbi, the Korean version of the same dish.)

I’ve been wanting to recreate this traditional Hawaiian BBQ sensation here on the mainland on my own grill for a while now. Since summer has come and grilling season is in full swing, I decided to give it a try. I slightly altered my usual teriyaki sauce recipe to add more ginger and a good amount of sesame oil to give the marinade that island flavor. Then I marinated the short ribs for four hours in the fridge.

A quick side not here about short ribs: If you’re like me, you are completely confused by what a short rib is. I thought short ribs were those braised boneless tender pieces of beef that Wolfgang Puck has made so popular at all the posh Los Angeles dinner parties. How could that and these thinly sliced pieces of bone- in rib meat, be the same part of the cow?  The simple fact is that the short ribs of a cow can be butchered in several different ways. The meat Wofgang Puck uses is a long, thick section of meat cut between two ribs, while the Maui Style Ribs are cooked from a flanken cut, or a thin cut across the bone. It makes sense, really, as whenever you have a tougher portion of meat, there are only two good ways to cook it. You can either braise a thick portion of the meat, or you can slice it thinly and sear it.

So, while that side not was not as ‘quick’ as intended, hopefully this will help you in the grocery store when you are trying to ask for the appropriate ‘short ribs’ for your recipe.

After marinating the ribs, I thickened the marinade with a little cornstarch and brushed it onto the ribs as I seared them on a hot grill. While traditionally you would serve these ribs with rice and macaroni salad, I decided to opt for a few more vegetables with my side dish.

I used my Mom’s recipe for Broccoli Slaw as a side, complete with ramen and almonds in a rice wine vinaigrette.

Then Jodie and I sat down for a nice Hawaiian inspired picnic and reminisced about our adventures on the islands.

Maui Style Short Ribs

4 racks of flanken style short ribs

1 teaspoon of cornstarch

Teriyaki Sauce

approx. 1 cup Soy sauce

approx. 1/2 cup Sake

approx. 1 cup Brown Sugar

approx. 2 Tablespoons ginger juice from 1 ginger root (To make ginger juice, grate a ginger root and squeeze the juice from the grated ginger. This is particularly easy from ginger root that you have saved in your freezer. Just let it defrost for a few minutes and then squeeze. You probably don’t even need to grate it. You could also substitute plain grated ginger or ginger powder to taste)

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

  1. Mix the teriyaki ingredients. Adjust flavors to taste.
  2. Marinate the short ribs in the teriyaki sauce for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  3. Preheat the grill 15 minutes prior to cooking.
  4. Meanwhile thicken the marinade into a sauce. Set aside the short ribs and the bring the sauce to a boil in a saucepan. Dissolve the cornstarch in a small amount of water and add it to the boiling sauce. Let it thicken for 5 minutes until syrupy.
  5. Sear the ribs over a hot grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side, brushing with thicken sauce. Remove from the grill and serve immediately with rice.

Broccoli Slaw

1 package of broccoli slaw from your local grocer (about 12 ounces)

1 package of ramen noodles, broken into large chunks

¼ cup of sliced almonds (pine nuts also work, but are often too pricey)

4 green onion, chopped on a bias (diagonally)

Rice Wine Vinaigrette

1/4  cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned rice wine vinegar works best)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer reduced sodium)

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

  1. Toast the almonds (or pine nuts) and ramen in a dry skillet until lightly golden brown.
  2. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Combine slaw, green onions, ramen, and nuts in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Mix well and serve.
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