Soy sauce (Recipe: oven-braised beef short ribs)
One amazing thing to know about soy sauce:
Worldwide, more cooks have soy sauce in their pantries than have tea, coffee, milk or salsa. Soy sauce, so fundamental to Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cuisines, enlivens soups, stews, sauces, and marinades for chicken, fish and tofu. How would you describe the taste of soy sauce, which doesn't taste anything like the soy beans from which it's made? I'd say meaty, salty, mushroom-y (I don't think that's really a word), and umami-rich. There are more than twenty types of soy sauce, and in my pantry I have several, but the ones I use most often are Kikkoman reduced-sodium (sometimes called less sodium) soy sauce, which I buy by the jug at my local Asian market, and Amoy dark soy (enriched with molasses). If you need to avoid hidden gluten, San-J makes a gluten-free organic tamari soy sauce.
Cooking or baking?
Unopened, soy sauce will keep in the cupboard for years. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for two years or more.
Oven-braised beef short ribs
This week it's all turkey, all the time, here in the United States of Thanksgiving, but for readers in other countries, these short ribs might be just the dish to make this weekend. Both the ultimate comfort food and the ultimate entertaining dish, short ribs can be intimidating, but this recipe takes all of the fear out in an easy preparation. If you prefer, omit the potatoes and serve the short ribs over polenta or rice. Adapted slightly from the original recipe in Lucinda Scala Quinn's Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys, this serves 6-8.
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 leek, cleaned and diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use reduced-sodium soy sauce)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
3-1/2 lb beef short ribs
2-3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (optional)
Mix all ingredients except the meat and potatoes in a 9x15 inch roasting pan. Add the ribs, and rub all over with the marinade. The meat should fit comfortably in a single layer in the pan. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or up to overnight; turn the meat occasionally to expose all sides to the marinade.
Remove meat from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Braise the short ribs, uncovered, for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue cooking for an additional 3 hours, turning the ribs once or twice and scraping up any of the sauce that sticks to the pan. Add the potatoes in the last 45 minutes of cooking. Add water to the pan if too much liquid evaporates; you want to end up with glistening ribs in a reduced glaze.
The ribs are done when the meat melts off the bone and you can eat them with just a fork.
Other recipes that use reduced-sodium soy sauce:
Soy sauce brined turkey, from gas•tron•o•my
Grilled pork chops with soy sauce, cumin, lime, and oregano, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sugar snap peas with soy sauce, from A Veggie Venture
Grilled whole fish with chili soy dipping sauce, from Steamy Kitchen
Grilled marinated flank steak, from Simply Recipes