Short Rib Tacos With Cilantro-Lime Slaw
“Short ribs aren’t just for braising,” says contributing food editor Sohla El-Waylly. “Boneless short ribs in particular can be grilled like steak. Be sure to cook them to medium doneness, just long enough to render fat and tenderize, without letting them overcook or toughen. A 20-minute rest is ideal for keeping them juicy.” In this recipe the meat is basted with a mixture inspired by salsa negra, a deeply flavored bittersweet salsa made from fried morita chiles and piloncillo. Instead, Sohla created a quick pantry salsa by blending canned chipotle chiles in adobo with brown sugar, charred garlic, and vinegar to provide similar smoky, sweet, and bitter flavors. Use up any leftover chipotles in adobo in vegetarian chili or chicken tinga tostadas. The simple cilantro-lime slaw adds cool crunch against the rich meat and chipotle heat.
- ½ medium head of cabbage
- 3½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2 tsp. (heaping) Morton kosher salt, divided
- 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2–3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, plus 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
- ⅓ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ lb. boneless beef short ribs, preferably 1″ thick
- Vegetable oil
- 1 large red onion
- 1 lime
- 1 avocado
- 10–14 small tortillas
- 1 cup (lightly packed) cilantro leaves
- Cut ½ medium head of cabbage in half lengthwise and remove core; discard. Slice cabbage crosswise into very thin strips (as thin as you can). Transfer to a large bowl and sprinkle with ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. (heaping) Morton kosher salt. Massage gently with your hands to work in salt and soften cabbage a bit. Set aside.
- Toast 5 unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry small skillet over medium-high heat, until skins are deeply charred on both sides, 5–7 minutes. Let cool a few minutes and peel garlic. Place in blender along with 2–3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo (add 3 if spicy is your thing) and 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce, ⅓ cup (packed) dark brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar, 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. (heaping) Morton kosher salt, ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and ½ cup water. Blend until smooth. Transfer salsa to a small bowl.
- Prepare a grill for medium heat. Clean and oil grate. Season 1½ lb. boneless beef short ribs, preferably 1″ thick, with remaining 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt; drizzle evenly with vegetable oil. Grill, rotating every minute or so, until exterior is deeply browned and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°, 7–12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your ribs. Brush ribs with salsa and continue to grill, turning every minute or less, until shiny, glazed, and thermometer registers 130°, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 20 minutes.
- If you don’t have a grill: Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Season 1½ lb. boneless beef short ribs, preferably 1″ thick, with remaining 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt (no need to rub with oil) and cook, turning every minute or so, until exterior is deeply browned and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 125°, 5–10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your ribs. Brush with salsa and continue to cook until glaze has darkened in color, about 15 seconds per side. Repeat process with another layer of salsa. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 20 minutes.
- While the meat is resting, prepare the garnishes. Cut 1 large red onion in half through the root end and remove skin. Slice halves through root end into ½”-thick wedges (this will keep layers together while grilling). Grill onion wedges until charred (or cook in the same skillet—no need to clean), about 2 minutes per side. Trim root so layers easily separate and arrange on a platter. Cut 1 lime in half and squeeze juice into cabbage. Add 1 cup (lightly packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems to slaw and toss to combine. Slice 1 avocado and arrange on a small plate. Char 10–14 tortillas on grill or toast in a dry skillet, about 15 seconds per side. Wrap in a kitchen towel to keep warm .
- If short ribs are very thick, slice horizontally through the middle of the sides into 2 thinner pieces, then slice against the grain ¼” thick. Rotate slices 90° and chop crosswise into ¼” pieces. Arrange on platter next to onion and serve with cabbage slaw, avocado, tortillas, and remaining salsa for making tacos.
- Do ahead: Cabbage can be salted 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Salsa can be made 1 week ahead; cover and chill.
Phanaeng – Curry Beef Skewers With Grilled Pumpkin
“One reason phanaeng curry is one of the most beloved in Thailand is that, when traditionally made, it’s thicker and more concentrated (with more flavor, not more heat) than most other curries,” writes Leela Punyaratabandhu in Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked Over Charcoal. “Like those other curries, phanaeng is served in a bowl with rice—which is why my entire extended family was amazed when a caterer at my grandfather’s 72nd birthday party threaded phanaeng marinated beef and large cubes of pumpkin onto skewers and grilled them. We loved it so much, we reverse-engineered it, and have made it at every family reunion ever since. You can serve the skewers with cooked jasmine rice; just season the sauce with a heavier hand. Be sure to use a well-marbled, quick-cooking cut of beef, such as rib eye or sirloin steak, and a dense, low-moisture pumpkin or winter squash—kabocha, Buttercup, Musquée de Provence (aka Fairy Tale pumpkin), and Potimarron squash (aka Red Kuri) are my absolute favorites, but common butternut squash works. Look for Nittaya or Mae Ploy brand phanaeng (also spelled panang) curry paste sold in tubs.”
- 2 tablespoons packed phanaeng curry paste (see headnote) or red curry paste
- 2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened natural creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons packed grated palm sugar or granulated coconut sugar, or 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 3⁄4 cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 pounds well-marbled rib-eye steaks or sirloin steak or tips, cut against the grain into bite-size pieces about 1⁄4 inch thick
- 8 cups ice-cold water
- 2 pounds dense, low-moisture pumpkin or winter squash (see headnote), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons packed phanaeng curry paste or red curry paste
- 1 1⁄2 cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon packed grated palm sugar or granulated coconut sugar, or 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup coconut oil, melted, for brushing
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped, for garnish
- 4 to 6 fresh red bird’s eye chiles, or 2 larger hot red chiles, thinly sliced, for garnish
- 5 or 6 makrut lime leaves, deveined and cut into whisker-thin strips, or 1⁄2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, for garnish
- To prep the beef: In a large bowl, stir together the curry paste, peanut butter, sugar, coconut milk, and salt, mixing well. Add the beef and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Soak twelve 12-inch bamboo skewers in water to cover for 1 to 2 hours.
- To prep the pumpkin: About 15 minutes before the beef is done marinating, fill a 4-quart saucepan half full with water and bring to a boil. Pour the ice-cold water into a large bowl and put the bowl into the sink. Add the pumpkin cubes to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Using a fine-mesh skimmer, quickly transfer the pumpkin to the cold water to stop the cooking. Drain the pumpkin, pat dry, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the salt and mix gently but thoroughly; set aside.
- Divide the beef into twelve equal portions; do the same with the pumpkin. Working with one portion of beef and one of pumpkin, alternately thread them onto a soaked skewer. Push the beef and pumpkin snugly against one another to form a compact bundle toward the tip end of the skewer, leaving the blunt end bare to use as a handle. Repeat with the remaining meat and pumpkin portions and skewers.
- Prepare a medium-high fire (400° to 450°F) in a charcoal grill using the two-zone method. Alternatively, light a full chimney of charcoal, and when the coals are ready, spread them out on the bottom of a hibachi for cooking over a medium fire (350° to 375°F).
- While waiting for the grill to heat, make the sauce: In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the oil and curry paste over medium-high heat. When the oil has melted, stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and sugar and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the fish sauce, then taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce if needed. Keep warm.
- When the coals are covered with white ash and the grate is hot, place the skewers in the middle of the grill halfway between the hot side and the hold side. Cook uncovered, brushing with the oil and flipping and turning the skewers as needed to cook evenly, until both the beef and the pumpkin are lightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer the skewers to a large platter. Drizzle the warm sauce over them and sprinkle with the peanuts first, followed by the chiles, and then the lime leaves. If using basil leaves, tear them into small pieces at the last minute. Serve immediately.
Sweet and Spicy Grilled Summer Squash
The crosshatch pattern isn’t just for show (even though it does look cool)! It allows for the salt to fully penetrate the squash and also draws out some of the excess water so that the sweet, tangy glaze can be fully absorbed.
- 4 medium summer squash or zucchini (about 1½ lb. total)
- Kosher salt
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable or sunflower oil, divided
- 1 lime, halved
- ½ small shallot, thinly sliced into rounds
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves with tender stems
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
- Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Cut each squash in half lengthwise, then score cut sides in a ¼” crosshatch pattern with the tip of your knife. Toss squash and 1 tsp. salt in a colander; set over a bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Meanwhile, combine honey, vinegar, soy sauce, and chili paste in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and slightly thickened (just shy of syrupy), 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 Tbsp. oil.
- Toss squash with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large baking dish or plate. Turn squash cut side up, then brush with glaze.
- Grill squash cut side down until just beginning to char around the edges, about 3 minutes. Continue to grill, turning every minute or so and brushing squash with glaze on cut sides, until just tender and cut sides are lightly charred and shiny from the glaze, 6–8 minutes total. (Reserve any leftover glaze.) Transfer squash to a platter.
- Squeeze juice from 1 lime half into a medium bowl and add shallot and cilantro; season with salt and toss to combine.
- Drizzle squash with any leftover glaze. Top with herb salad and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with remaining lime half alongside.