Braised Coconut Beef Ribs Recipe

It doesn't get much better than tender, juicy braised beef short ribs. They're the quintessential winter meal, usually doused in rich red wine and served with mashed potatoes. But did you know that short ribs can be a perfect summer meal as well?

Paired with coconut milk, chilies, lemongrass, and lime, beef ribs take on a lighter (while still rich) flavor, draped in a silky sauce that's both slightly sweet and delicately spicy. It's perfect for serving any time of the year and is practically foolproof, making it the best meal to serve to dinner guests. And if you like stir-fry, you're in luck: This recipe written by Michelle McGlinn includes crunchy baby corn, crisp water chestnuts, and tender bok choy for a dish reminiscent of your favorite takeout noodles. It's delicious, easy, and meltingly tender, thanks to a couple hours in a hot oven.

If you're looking for a way to switch up classic beef short ribs, look no further. This nutty, sweet, and sticky dish is full of flavor and a must-try for any beef lover, even on the hottest summer day.

The ingredients needed for braised coconut beef ribs

Of course, you will need beef short ribs, salt, and pepper. This recipe works for up to 8 short ribs, or about 5 pounds. If planning a dinner party, plan to serve 1 short rib per person, with plenty of side dishes and appetizers to share. This dish is rich, and short ribs are expensive, so you'll find that less is more. (Or, if you're serving hungry eaters and don't mind splurging, plan for 2 ribs per person, especially if the meat is a bit sparse.) This recipe works with boneless short ribs, too, but you will have to adjust the cook time slightly.

You'll also need ginger, garlic, Thai chiles, tomato paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, coconut milk, beef broth, lemongrass, and lime juice. Most of these are likely in your pantry already, but if you are having trouble finding Thai chilies, you can swap them for serranos, Fresnos, or even jalapenos.

The veggies go in last — we use baby corn, water chestnuts, and baby bok choy. The corn and chestnuts are found in cans, while the bok choy is found near the mustard greens in the produce aisle. You can also use bell peppers, spinach, or carrots in a pinch.

Sear the beef

First, preheat the oven to 350 F, then get to braising.

A braise is technically a dish made first with dry heat, then with wet heat (such as broth or coconut milk). The reason for doing this is to develop rich flavors out of large cuts of beef before simmering it until tender. To try it yourself, simply season the beef all over, then crank up the heat of your Dutch oven or cast iron skillet. Once hot, sear the beef on all sides, creating a brown crust. There's need to cook the short ribs all the way through; just sear them for a few minutes per side.

Develop the base of the broth

When you remove the beef from the pot, there will be some grease left behind from the searing. Leave it in the pot and add the aromatics (garlic, ginger, and chilies), cooking gently until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir until caramelized — that is, turning brown and sticking to the bottom. Then, pour in the coconut milk, soy sauce, and sesame oil and stir vigorously to combine.

Braise the short ribs

Stir in 1 cup of beef broth (you can add more if needed later on), the lemongrass, and lime juice. When adding the lemongrass, crush the stalks under a cast iron skillet to open up the flavor, similar to crushing garlic cloves. Give the mixture a stir, then add the beef short ribs back into the pot. The liquid should come about halfway up the ribs, not submerging the meat completely. Cover the pot and add it to the oven to braise for 2 hours and 30 minutes, checking about every 45 minutes to ensure the liquid hasn't completely reduced (and if it has, add more beef broth). When done, the beef will pull away easily with a fork.

Add the vegetables

Because the vegetables would get mushy if added earlier on, you'll instead add them once the beef is done braising. To ensure they develop as much flavor as possible, submerge the corn, water chestnuts, and bok choy in the remaining liquid in the pot, adding more beef broth if needed (you can't go wrong here; if you add a lot, you'll just have a saucier rib).

Cover the pot again and braise for another 20-30 minutes, until the bok choy is tender and wilted. The beef, at this point, will be fall-apart tender, and the liquid will have reduced to a thick sauce. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serve your coconut braised beef ribs

Like any beef short ribs, these feel incomplete without a starchy side. Because of the stir-fry-like nature of these ribs, we recommend serving them with sticky white rice or cilantro-lime rice. If rice isn't your thing, try puréed parsnips or cauliflower instead. Garnish the beef with sesame seeds for extra nutty flavor or with cilantro to calm the sauce's subtle spice.

Because beef short ribs can be expensive, serving them with hearty sides and appetizers is a good trick to stretch the meal. Serve dumplings, egg rolls, or crab rangoons to start, then consider serving the ribs alongside cucumber salad, braised parsnips, or cold soba noodles. And if you'd like a drink to wash down the rich coconut sauce? Nothing is better than a cold glass of sake.

Braised Coconut Beef Ribs Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
Braised short ribs and veggies with a Thai-inspired twist are fragrant, lightly spiced, and rich with coconut milk.
Prep Time
Cook Time
beef short rib in bowl
Total time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • 3-4 pounds beef short ribs
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon pepper
  • Cooking oil, as needed
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 Thai chiles, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1-2 cups beef broth, as needed
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, rough stems removed
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • 1 (15-ounce) can baby corn on the cob
  • 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts
  • 4 baby bok choy, halved
Optional Ingredients
  • Sesame seeds, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. In a Dutch oven or braising pot, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the short ribs and sear on all sides, working in batches as needed. Once all sides are browned, about 10 minutes, remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilies to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until caramelized and beginning to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and coconut milk and stir to combine with the tomato paste. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add the beef back to the pot, nestling into the coconut milk. Add 1 cup of beef broth, the lemongrass, and lime juice, then cover and place in the oven. Braise for 2 hours and 30 minutes, or until the beef is fork-tender. Check the pot every 45 minutes and add more beef broth as needed (the meat should be submerged about halfway).
  7. Remove the pot the oven and add the corn, water chestnuts, and bok choy, submerging in the broth as much as possible and adding more liquid if needed.
  8. Cover the pot again and place in the oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until bok choy is cooked through and liquid has reduced slightly.
  9. Remove from the oven and serve, garnishing with sesame seeds if desired.
Calories per Serving 2,081
Total Fat 182.7 g
Saturated Fat 83.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 305.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 47.7 g
Dietary Fiber 3.8 g
Total Sugars 5.9 g
Sodium 1,830.5 mg
Protein 67.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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