On this Indian Summer day, there is a beautiful blue sky against leaves clinging to their last bit of green. It is a beautiful way to say goodbye to the last bits of summer. When I think of fall, I think of hearty soups, but since it is such a warm summery day, I decided to lighten it up a bit with a nice broth-based hot and sour. We used to make something reminiscent of this at Green Zebra, but obviously with no meat. I couldn’t resist using my new cast iron to braise a couple short-ribs.
I seared them really well, leaving them to sear for a few minutes in plenty of oil in a HOT pan. Once all sides were seared, I turned my oven on at 325. I poured out most of the oil.
Then I added some mushroom broth, a good ammount of Mae Ploy (sweet chili sauce), Sambal Olek (chili paste), and some ginger rough chopped. I didn’t fully cover the shortribs, just about half way.
I let it cook in the oven, at first covered until the meat tightened up around the bones, then uncovered until it got soft again and the sauces reduced. Somewhere in the middle, I remembered to put some sliced garlic in there too.
Once they were nice and tender, I pulled the bones out, and cooled them in the refrigerator for later slicing. I kept the bones and the liquid for making the broth.
I strained the chunks out of the broth, and then I sliced an inch long hunk of peeled ginger thinly and added them to a mesh strainer that I left hanging for the duration of the broth making process. To that, I also added one stalk of thinly sliced lemongrass. I slice this on a bias so that there is maximum surface area to extract the flavor. I also took the stems off of about 15 shiitake mushrooms and saved the caps for finishing the broth. It is a good way to use every part of the buffalo. I also chopped the ends off of a bunch of scallions, and I saved the tops for garnishing the finished product. I also added the bones into the strainer for infusing into the broth.
At this time, I also added mushroom broth about 3/4 of the way up to the top of the pot. I brought it up to a boil, then I let it simmer covered about a half hour. I pulled out the strainer and added my mushroom caps, which I thinly sliced. I also added some pickled baby corn that I cut into one inch pieces.
I also small diced an inch nub of peeled ginger. This time, I took care to brunoise it nicely.
By the time I got all of that done, the short ribs were fully cooled. I took them out and trimmed them up, taking care to trim any weird connective tissue that was too chewy. I very thinly sliced the pieces of meat into bite sized pieces. I set them aside for later addition to the soup.
I added an entire packet of wide soba noodles to the boiling pot, stirring rapidly so they didn’t stick.
Once they were mostly cooked, I added some thinly bias cut carrots and the meat to the broth. Once the carrots were tender, I took everything off the heat and cut my other garnish.
I thinly bias-cut a jalapeño, chiffonaded cilantro, very bias cut scallion tops and a lime.
To finish the broth right before serving, I added soy sauce, rice vinegar and lime juice to taste.
In the end, I think it was the perfect way to say, “So long, Summer…..Hello Fall!” It was spicy, it was a little sweet from the Mae Ploy, sour from the citrus and vinegar and a little salty from the soy sauce. The mushrooms added the perfect ammout of umami to really kick up the meatyness of the short ribs. The ribs were amazingly tender and had the perfect ammount of fat to have delicious flavor. What a great thing to have waiting for you when you come home on a warm fall afternoon.