What’s cooking today: Lacquered beef short rib

What’s cooking today: Lacquered beef short rib
Tony Jackman’s lacquered beef short rib, served on a plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Short rib is a tough cut of beef but one of the most flavourful parts of the animal. Given lots of time, it becomes a delicious meal.

Lacquering, in cuisine, is the technique of cooking meat (chicken, duck or pork, chiefly) in a sauce that includes sugar of some kind, often honey, so that it attains a glossy sheen. When other ingredients that imbue colour are added, the dish gains additional visual appeal as well as the impact on the palate.

Two key things: you need lots of time, and plenty of liquid (or to top it up to prevent it drying out). But the aromatics in the cooking broth, as well as the sweet, wet ingredients, are what turns the dish into something special.

In this instance, there’s no honey in it, but I did use brown sugar, molasses and sweet Indonesian soy sauce. That may seem a lot, but to balance the sweetness there’s a hint of dark soy too, as well as fresh ginger, garlic, chilli, a little fish sauce and fresh lime juice.

For a weeknight supper, put it on in the morning to cook very gently while you go about your day. It might be best to plan ahead and put the short rib in to marinate in the fridge the night before. I served it with noodles as described below.

(Serves 4)


1 kg beef short ribs

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 x 4 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 Tbsp brown sugar

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

¼ cup hot chilli sauce

¼ cup molasses

3 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp sweet Indonesian soy sauce

½ tsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp avocado oil

Juice of 2 limes

Liquid vegetable stock as needed

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the noodles:

350 g rice noodles

2 Tbsp wok oil

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp lime juice

6 spring onions / scallions, chopped

1 red pepper, seeded and diced


In a bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, chilli sauce, molasses, the two soys and the fish sauce. Douse the pieces of short rib in this and marinate for several hours or overnight.

Remove from the fridge an hour before starting to cook them. Season them with sea salt and black pepper. Preheat the oven to 160℃.

In a heavy cast-iron oven dish or Dutch oven, sear the ribs in avocado oil on a moderately high heat until well browned. Add 250 ml vegetable stock and bring to a simmer, then cook gently for five minutes,

Cover and cook in the slow oven until tender, three to four hours or longer; it’s only ready when the meat is super tender; if not, add a little liquid vegetable stock, but not dissolved from a cube; they’re way too salty for this.

Boil a kettle and pour the water over the noodles in a bowl. Leave them to one side.

Pour a little oil into a wok and put it on the heat. Chop the red pepper and slice the spring onions. Drain the noodles in a colander and give it a couple of shakes. Add the red pepper and spring onions to the wok, followed immediately by the noodles. Toss the wok and add the rice vinegar and lime juice. Serve with the beef short rib. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options