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Island Style Lunch

Maybe it’s the afternoon showers cooling temperatures from oppressive to pleasant or the fact that I’ve watched three surfing documentaries this week, but I’ve craved the tropics. My desperate grasp for a taste of island life has led to a bit of over purchasing, leaving my counter piled high with mangoes and limes. (Don’t judge. They were really cheap and I couldn’t resist.) Now, to use up the bounty, I’ve been eating them with just about every meal. Mango-lime smoothies in the mornings, mango sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder for a snack and my personal favorite, mango slaw with lime dressing to go with lunch or dinner. The slaw recipe is the highlight of the excessive purchase and inspired a lunch/dinner meal where it pairs with marinated short ribs and white rice. The short ribs showcase a salty sweet marinade and cook up quickly on the stove-top or grill, while fragrant hot cooked rice rounds out the plate and balances the robust tropical flavors. The menu is suited for a sensible lunch gathering with a few friends and maybe a few beers. It’s refreshing, yet filling, but won’t leave you so full the rest of the day is unproductive. Enjoy.

Marinated Short Ribs

Marinated Short Ribs

Makes 6 servings

4 pounds flanken cut short ribs (about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. freshly grated ginger

1 tsp. chili garlic sauce

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1. Trim excess fat and remove membrane from bone side of short ribs; place in a large zip-top bag. Whisk soy sauce and next 5 ingredients together in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Pour soy sauce mixture over ribs in bag and seal. Lay flat on a jelly roll pan and chill 8 to 12 hours, turning halfway through.

2. Remove short ribs and discard marinade. Pat dry with paper towels.

3. Cook half of short ribs in a large cast iron skillet in hot oil over medium heat, covered, 10 minutes. Turn and cook, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through. Repeat with remaining short ribs. Cut between bones to serve.

Norm’s Note: The Right Ribs

Flanken-cut short ribs are cut across the bones resulting in a large piece of meat resting atop rib sections. They yield slightly tender, yet somewhat chewy, pieces of meat that boast rich meaty flavor. You can purchase them in thicknesses anywhere from 1/8-inch up to 2-inches. If you can’t find them at your local market, ask the butcher to cut you some, they’ll know what you need.

When it comes to cooking Flanken short ribs, the most common methods favor high heat and short times (I mean 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on thickness). However, in this recipe, the short ribs are cooked at a moderate temperature for double the traditional time to prevent the sugar in the marinade from over caramelizing and giving a bitter taste. Also, pay attention to the covering and uncovering part of the recipe. Cooking covered increases the temperature in the pan by trapping steam, helping to fully cook the meat since it tends to draw up on the ribs reducing contact with the pan. Uncovering during the last bit of cooking allows the meat to crisp as the moisture evaporates from the pan. If you want to grill them, bring the grill temperature to medium (about 350 to 375 degrees), omit oil, and cook over direct heat following recipe times and covering methods.

Mango Slaw

Mango Slaw

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 red jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced [Use half if you want it less spicy.]

2 mangoes, cut into thin strips

1/2 small head cabbage, finely shredded (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, cut into thin strips

1. Whisk rice vinegar and next 4 ingredients together in a large bowl until sugar and salt have dissolved.

2. Add jalapeno and let stand 5 minutes. Add mangoes and remaining ingredients and toss until blended. Serve immediately.

To Serve: Arrange marinated short ribs, mango slaw, and 3 to 4 cups hot cooked jasmine rice on a large platter.

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Norman KingNorman is a culinary expert and cookbook author. He first harnessed a love of stirring cast iron skillets atop wooden stools at his grandmother’s stove, leading his heart and feet...

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