Flanken Ribs Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide to Perfect Grilled Ribs

Flanken ribs recipe, a unique beef cut from the cow’s rib section, feature a cross-cut style that leaves small bone pieces between meat sections. Unlike traditional ribs cut between bones, butchers cut flanken ribs across the bones to about half an inch thick. This cutting technique helps the ribs soak up marinades more effectively and allows for quick cooking, making them ideal for grilling or broiling.

When preparing a flanken ribs recipe, you typically marinate the meat to enhance its flavor and tenderize it before cooking. The marbling of fat within the flanken ribs contributes to their rich flavor and tender texture once cooked. Various cuisines around the world, including Korean, where cooks refer to it as “galbi,” favor this cut for its quick cooking properties, especially in barbecues. Flanken ribs also enjoy popularity in Jewish cuisine, featuring prominently in dishes like cholent.

Brief History of Flanken Ribs in Cuisine:

The history of flanken ribs recipe in cuisine is as rich and diverse as the flavors they bring to the table. Originally, this cut was a practical solution for butchers to use the rib section of the cow more efficiently. Over time, it became a beloved ingredient in various cultural dishes. In Eastern European Jewish communities, flanken ribs were often slow-cooked in stews to tenderize the tough meat, which was a method well-suited to the Sabbath when cooking was not permitted.

As immigrants brought their culinary traditions to new lands, the use of flanken ribs recipe spread and adapted. In Korean cuisine, the ribs were transformed into a barbecue delicacy, marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and grilled to perfection. This style of cooking highlighted the meat’s potential to be both flavorful and tender. Today, flanken ribs continue to be a versatile and sought-after component in many dishes, celebrated for their deep flavor and the cultural history they carry with them.

For more delightful recipes and cooking tips, explore our Earl Grey Cookies or the sweet and savory Tennessee Onion Recipe.

Selecting the Best Flanken Ribs :

Choosing the best flanken ribs recipe is crucial for a flavorful and tender result. When selecting, look for ribs with a good amount of marbling — the white flecks of fat within the meat — as this fat will melt during cooking, adding juiciness and flavor. The meat should have a bright red color, indicating freshness. Additionally, the cut should be uniform in thickness to ensure even cooking. Ideally, the ribs should be about half an inch thick, which is the perfect size for absorbing marinades and cooking quickly without drying out. It’s also beneficial to purchase ribs from a reputable butcher who can provide information about the meat’s origin and handling, ensuring that you’re getting the best quality for your dish.

Preparing the Ribs for Marinating :

Before marinating, it’s important to prepare the flanken ribs properly to maximize the flavor absorption. Start by rinsing the ribs under cold water to remove any bone fragments or excess blood. Pat them dry with paper towels to ensure the marinade adheres well. If there are any particularly thick pieces of fat, you may trim them slightly, but remember that the fat is essential for flavor and moisture. To help the marinade penetrate, score the meat lightly in a criss-cross pattern, being careful not to cut too deeply into the meat. This increases the surface area and allows the marinade to seep into the meat more effectively. Once scored and dried, the ribs are ready to be marinated with your choice of seasonings and ingredients, setting the stage for a deliciously rich and savory dish.

Crafting the Perfect Marinade :

The marinade is a pivotal element in the preparation of flanken ribs, as it tenderizes the meat and infuses it with flavor. A perfect marinade strikes a balance between acid, oil, and seasonings. The acid, often in the form of citrus juice or vinegar, breaks down tough muscle fibers. Oil helps to keep the ribs moist during cooking, and the seasonings provide the distinctive taste.

When crafting your marinade, consider the flavor profile you want to achieve. For a classic Korean galbi, pear juice is used as a tenderizer along with soy sauce for umami depth. For a more traditional Jewish recipe, onions and garlic may be the stars. Whichever direction you choose, ensure that your marinade will complement the rich flavor of the beef without overpowering it.

Essential Ingredients for Flanken Ribs Marinade :

A well-rounded marinade for flanken ribs recipe typically includes:

  • Acidic Component: Vinegar, citrus juice, or wine to tenderize the meat.
  • Fat: A quality oil like sesame or olive oil to help retain moisture.
  • Sweetness: Sugar, honey, or fruit juices to balance the acid and caramelize during cooking.
  • Savory Elements: Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or salt to enhance the meaty flavor.
  • Aromatics: Garlic, onion, and green onions to add depth.
  • Herbs and Spices: Depending on the cuisine, this could include rosemary, thyme, ginger, or gochujang (Korean chili paste).

Step-by-Step Marinade Preparation :

  1. Combine the Acid and Oil: In a bowl, whisk together your choice of acid and oil. This emulsion will be the base of your marinade.
  2. Add Sweetness: Stir in your sweet component until fully dissolved or well combined.
  3. Incorporate Savory Flavors: Mix in soy sauce or other savory liquids, ensuring they’re well integrated into the base.
  4. Blend in Aromatics and Spices: Add minced garlic, chopped onions, and your selected herbs and spices. For a smooth marinade, you can blend these ingredients together before adding them to the liquid base.
  5. Taste and Adjust: Sample your marinade and adjust any elements to your preference. Remember that the flavors will be less intense once they’ve been absorbed by the meat.
  6. Marinate the Ribs: Place your flanken ribs in a non-reactive dish or a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them, ensuring they are completely covered. Seal or cover and refrigerate, allowing the ribs to marinate for at least a few hours, preferably overnight, turning them occasionally to ensure even flavor distribution.

By following these steps, you’ll create a marinade that tenderizes the flanken ribs recipe and provides a rich layer of flavor, setting the stage for a mouthwatering dish.

Cooking the Perfect Flanken Ribs :

Grilling flanken ribs requires a balance of heat and timing to achieve a caramelized exterior while keeping the inside juicy and tender. Here’s how to grill your marinated ribs to perfection:

Preparing the Grill :
  1. Heat it Up: Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat. For charcoal grills, the coals should be white-hot. For gas grills, give it 10-15 minutes to reach the right temperature.
  2. Clean the Grates: Use a grill brush to clean the grates. This prevents sticking and ensures you get those desirable grill marks.
  3. Oil the Grates: Dip a paper towel in cooking oil and, using tongs, rub it over the grates to create a non-stick surface.
Grilling the Ribs :
  1. Drain the Marinade: Remove the ribs from the marinade and let the excess drip off. Discard the remaining marinade to avoid flare-ups.
  2. Initial Sear: Place the ribs on the hottest part of the grill. Sear them for 2-3 minutes on each side to lock in the juices and create a crust.
  3. Move and Continue Cooking: Once seared, move the ribs to a cooler part of the grill or lower the heat to medium. Continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes on each side. Flanken ribs are thin, so they’ll cook quickly.
  4. Monitor the Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. For medium-rare, aim for 130-135°F (54-57°C). If you prefer them well done, aim for 145°F (63°C).
  5. Rest the Meat: After grilling, let the ribs rest for about 5 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring that each bite is succulent.
  6. Serve and Enjoy: Serve the ribs hot off the grill. They can be enjoyed as is, or with a side of extra sauce for dipping.
Tips for Grilling Success :
  • Avoid Overcooking: Due to their thin cut, flanken ribs can overcook easily. Keep a close eye on them and use a timer to prevent them from becoming tough.
  • Control Flare-Ups: If flare-ups occur, move the ribs to a cooler part of the grill and close the lid to cut off the oxygen fueling the flames.
  • Add Smoke: For an extra layer of flavor, consider adding wood chips to your grill. This imparts a smoky taste that complements the marinade.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to grill flanken ribs that are charred on the outside, tender on the inside, and full of flavor. Whether you’re serving them for a family dinner or a backyard barbecue, these ribs are sure to be a hit.

Flanken Ribs Recipe

Alternative Cooking Methods :

Oven Baking :

Oven baking is a great alternative for those who don’t have access to a grill. To bake flanken ribs in the oven:

  1. Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to 375°F (190°C). This temperature allows the ribs to cook thoroughly without drying out.
  2. Prepare a Baking Sheet: Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top. The rack will allow heat to circulate around the ribs for even cooking.
  3. Bake the Ribs: Arrange the ribs on the rack in a single layer. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. For a caramelized crust, broil the ribs for an additional 2-3 minutes after they’re cooked through.
  4. Rest and Serve: Let the ribs rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to settle.
Slow Cooking :

Slow cooking is ideal for achieving fall-off-the-bone tenderness:

  1. Layer the Ribs: Place the ribs in the slow cooker. You can stack them but try to layer them evenly.
  2. Add Liquid: Pour in a bit of broth or water to create a moist environment, which prevents the ribs from drying out.
  3. Cook on Low: Set your slow cooker to low and cook the ribs for 6-8 hours. The low and slow process will tenderize the meat.
  4. Finish with a Broil: For a touch of crispness, place the cooked ribs on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven for a few minutes until they’re caramelized.

Both oven baking and slow cooking are excellent methods for preparing flanken ribs, especially when grilling isn’t an option. Each method brings out the ribs’ flavors and tenderness in a different way, providing delicious results that are sure to satisfy.

Side Dishes and Pairings :

Best Side Dishes for Flanken Ribs

The rich flavors of flanken ribs recipe call for side dishes that can complement their robustness without overshadowing them. Here are some classic accompaniments:

  1. Steamed Rice: A simple bowl of steamed white rice works wonderfully with the savory juices of the ribs.
  2. Grilled Vegetables: Charred bell peppers, onions, and zucchini add a smoky, healthy balance to the meal.
  3. Coleslaw: A tangy coleslaw with a vinegar-based dressing can cut through the richness of the meat.
  4. Potato Salad: A creamy potato salad, perhaps with a hint of mustard, pairs well with the ribs’ hearty flavor.
  5. Corn on the Cob: Sweet corn with a touch of butter is a delightful contrast to the savory ribs.
  6. Kimchi: For a Korean twist, serve the ribs with kimchi to add a spicy and tangy dimension.
  7. Macaroni and Cheese: A creamy, cheesy macaroni can be a comforting side that harmonizes with the meat.
  8. Cucumber Salad: A refreshing cucumber salad with a light vinaigrette can cleanse the palate between bites.
Wine and Beverage Pairings

When pairing beverages with flanken ribs, you want to choose drinks that can stand up to the bold flavors:

  1. Red Wine: A full-bodied red wine like Malbec or Shiraz complements the umami and charred flavors of the ribs without overpowering them.
  2. Beer: A crisp lager or a hoppy IPA can cut through the richness of the meat and refresh the palate.
  3. Soju: If you’re enjoying a Korean-style preparation, soju is a traditional and fitting choice.
  4. Iced Tea: For a non-alcoholic option, a glass of cold iced tea with a squeeze of lemon balances the meal’s richness.
  5. Bourbon: A neat bourbon or a bourbon-based cocktail like an Old Fashioned pairs nicely with the smoky flavors of grilled ribs.

Each of these beverages has unique characteristics that can enhance the overall dining experience, complementing the complex flavors of the flanken ribs.


Are flanken ribs the same as short ribs?

Short ribs and flanken ribs both come from the rib section of a cow, but they differ in their cutting style. Butchers cut short ribs between the rib bones, which gives you a thick piece of meat sitting on top of a bone. In contrast, they cut flanken ribs across the bones, resulting in each slice having a few small pieces of bone with a thinner layer of meat. They also cut flanken ribs thinner than short ribs, typically about half an inch thick.

What is Flanken used for?

Chefs use flanken for a variety of dishes in different cuisines. It’s a favorite for grilling, especially in Korean dishes like galbi. You can also braise or slow-cook flanken, a technique often seen in Jewish cooking for dishes such as cholent. This cut adapts well to recipes that call for marinating and quick cooking on high heat, as well as those that require slow cooking for several hours.

What goes with flanken ribs?

Flanken ribs can be paired with a wide array of side dishes. Steamed rice, grilled vegetables, coleslaw, potato salad, corn on the cob, kimchi, macaroni and cheese, and cucumber salad are all excellent choices that complement the rich flavor of the ribs. The key is to choose sides that will balance the savory and often intense flavors of the marinated meat.

How long does it take to grill flanken?

Flanken ribs are relatively thin and therefore cook quite quickly on the grill. Typically, they require about 2-3 minutes per side over medium-high heat to sear properly, followed by an additional 3-4 minutes per side on a cooler part of the grill or at a lower heat setting. This means you can expect to spend roughly 10-14 minutes grilling flanken ribs, depending on your desired level of doneness. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure they reach the correct internal temperature without overcooking.

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