Flanken has a funny place in our hearts. It appeals to both our Jewish sides and our foodie natures. Most older balabustas or Jewish housewives, know flanken (a Yiddish term for flank, or side) as a flavorful, inexpensive cut to be braised. A good Jewish cook didn’t dare serve borscht without a good chunk of flanken in it to add to that earthy, rich feel. For years we were traumatized by this cut; older Jewish women would walk into our store and order flanken. We would say, “Short ribs, right?” and get berated. Sometimes we would be able to convince them that we were talking about the same thing. It’s the same bones, but a different cut - flanken is cut horizontally across the rib plate so that you get long, thin pieces of meat studded with many ribs. More recently foodies have been ordering this cut and grilling it Korean style. They call it kalbi. Given the choice between borscht (which, according to my grandmother’s recipe, is meat cooked until it is tasteless accompanied by mushy beets) and kalbi, I go Korean every time.
Flanken Recipe(Serves 4)
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (1-inch-long) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup mirin
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons toasted Asian sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon Asian chili sauce, such as Thai Sriracha or Korean gochujang
- 3 pounds flanken, cut 1 inch thick, 2 to 3 ribs across
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 head butter lettuce (optional)
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped scallions (white and green parts)
- Put the garlic to taste, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, canola oil, maple syrup, sesame oil, and chili sauce in a bowl and mix well. Pour the marinade into a thick, sealable bag, place the flanken in the bag, and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
- Heat a grill to high. Oil the grill grates. Remove the meat from the marinade and put it on the grill; reserve the marinade. Grill the meat until done, about 3 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn the ribs; the high sugar content of the marinade makes them char easily. Transfer the ribs to a platter and set aside.
- Pour the reserved marinade into a saucepan set over high heat. Bring it to a boil and cook until it becomes thick and syrupy.
- To serve, drizzle the flanken with the reduced marinade and sprinkle with cilantro, sesame seeds, and salt. To eat, pull the meat off of the bones, wrap it in the lettuce leaves if using, and sprinkle with the scallions.