Honey-Soy Braised Beef Short Rib Gnocchi is a wonderful fusion of Eastern and Western culinary traditions. The dish combines the tender, slow-cooked richness of braised short ribs with the delicious pillow-like texture of gnocchi.
Beef ribs are slow cooked in a mixture of honey and soy sauce. The honey provides a natural sweetness that balances the salty depth of the soy sauce. This creates a caramelized, umami-filled exterior on the ribs, while the interior becomes fork-tender and succulent.
Braising is a method of slowly cooking meat in liquid, usually after searing it. The ribs are first browned to develop flavor through the Maillard reaction, then cooked in the flavorful honey-soy mixture, often with additional aromatics such as garlic and ginger. The long cooking process breaks down the collagen in the ribs, making them tender and melt-in-your-mouth.
Gnocchi has a soft, chewy texture with a slightly chewy bite. Their mild flavor makes them an excellent canvas for absorbing the rich flavors of accompanying sauces or, in this case, braising liquid turned demi-glace. While gnocchi can be simply boiled, pan-frying it after boiling results in a golden, crispy exterior, which adds another layer of texture to the dish.
Demi-glace is a rich brown sauce traditionally prepared by reducing stock and brown sauce. In this dish, the braising liquid, already flavorful thanks to the honey, soy and beef juices, is further reduced, intensifying its flavors. Although you can leave it out, red wine adds even more depth, complexity and richness to the sauce. This reduction process concentrates all the flavorful goodness, ensuring that the final sauce coats the gnocchi and beef beautifully.
The sweet and savory notes of honey-soy-braised beef provide a flavorful counterpoint to the crisp yet tender gnocchi. The umami of the beef and demi-glace, combined with the neutral canvas of the gnocchi, results in a balanced dish where each bite is a play of textures and flavors.
Fresh sliced green onions not only add a pop of vibrant color, but also introduce a subtle, crunchy onion flavor that cuts through the richness of the braised beef and demi-glace, providing refreshing contrast and visual appeal. I had some leftover oyster mushrooms from a previous dish, so I pan-fried them in vegetable oil and topped them with sea salt. This made a great garnish because it added depth of flavor and new texture to the dish.