Lettuce wraps have long been a food delivery vehicle I can get behind. Although iceburg lettuce gets a bum rap, I’ve always enjoyed the great crunchy texture, and fresh crispness it imparts to a dish. The real question is what sort of protein to put in the wrap. Ground chicken and pork are traditional, and can be very tasty, but I like the texture and flavor of a nice shredded braised pork or beef.
For the Braise
1 cup Sake
1 cup Mirin
1 Cup Soy Sauce
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Yellow Onion, sliced
6 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2″ Knob of Ginger, Sliced
2 Chile Peppers, sliced
2 Bunches of Green Onion, cut into thirds
Initially I was going to make this dish with either Pork Shoulder or Pork Belly, but I spied these fresh Short Ribs and decided to see how they would work with the Asian flavors of the Soy braise. As it turns out, it worked really well!
Preheat the oven to 325º. Start off by searing the Short Ribs in a hot pan. Once they are nice and caramelized, remove them from the heat and add 1/4 cup of Soy Sauce to deglaze the pan a bit. Set the Short Ribs aside.
Add the Onions, Peppers, Ginger and Garlic to the same pan and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until they are slightly softened. Add the Green Onion and the rest of the liquid ingredients. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
Combine the Short Ribs, Veggies and Braising Liquid in a separate dish, and place, uncovered, in a 325º oven. The Short Ribs may look nice now, but just wait.
OH YEAH! That’s what low heat and 3.5 hours will do. Flip the Short Ribs every hour or so, and take them out of the oven when they are falling off the bone and extremely tender.
Strain the braising liquid. You can use the liquid as it is, or you can refrigerate it for a few hours and pull the fat off the top for a more concentrated liquid.
The fat easily comes off in one layer, and you’re left with a rich, sweet and salty sauce. I’ll save the fat to cook with baby potatoes or other starchy vegetables, giving them a meaty flavor.
You can serve the Short Ribs whole, as a main dish, or slice it into smaller slices for the lettuce wraps. I like to take it one step further and shred the meat.
Once the Ribs are cool enough I put on some latex gloves and pull the meat apart with my hands. It tastes great like this, but to take it another step, lets caramelize it in the braising liquid.
Just a couple of minutes in a hot pan with the liquid will start to caramelize the sugar in the sauce and give a nice deep flavor.
Voila! I served mine with some sesame seeds, cilantro, chili garlic sauce, and pickled ginger. I love rich foods with pickled foods. Some other options are pickled cabbage or radish.
Enjoy! NOM NOM NOM!