Slow cooker short ribs

Old-school fare gets an upgrade with an Asian-style lemongrass dinner from Park Avenue.

One of the most coveted gifts this past holiday season was a slow cooker. Gadget minimalists and the counter space-conscious make an exception for this piece of machinery. It’s versatile (oatmeal! hot wings!) and makes cooking healthy meals easy since dishes get their complexity from herbs and spices infused over hours. Yes, you can toss ingredients in and let it run. But a modicum of additional effort transforms Sunday football-watching grub to a special Saturday night dinner. For a restaurant-quality recipe, we went to Craig Koketsu, chef-partner of the inventive Park Avenue restaurantin New York City. The recipe uses nuoc mao, a dark caramel syrup and a staple of Vietnamese cooking, which can be found in Asian grocery stores, or made at home using sugar and water. (Substitute molasses if unavailable.) The purple potatoes also contain antioxidants, the same ones that make blueberries blue, and bok choy is a great source of vitamins A and C. No slow-cooker? A Dutch oven works, too–adjustments below.


¼ cup fish sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, grated
4 stalks lemongrass, dark green leaves trimmed, bottom halves pounded and finely chopped
2 lbs short ribs
2 tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 Thai chili, smashed
¼ cup nuoc mao (Vietnamese caramel sauce) or molasses, see note
12 oz coconut juice or coconut water
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
12 small purple potatoes, washed and dried
4 baby bok choy, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
1 bunch scallions, cleaned and sliced into thin rounds



In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, brown sugar, shallots, garlic, ginger and lemongrass; place short rib in a glass casserole dish, coat with marinade and let rest at room temperature, 45 minutes.


Remove short ribs from dish and pat dry with paper towels, reserving marinade. In a large pan over high heat, heat oil; brown short ribs on all sides. Transfer short ribs to slow cooker, add marinade, thai chili, nuoc mao and enough coconut juice to cover meat; cook on medium-high, 1 hour. Add pepper and potatoes, and continue to cook, 30 minutes. Add bok choy and cook until meat and potatoes are fork-tender and bok choy is wilted, 10 minutes.

Divide short ribs, potatoes, bok choy and sauce among four plates and garnish with scallions.

To use a Dutch oven: Over medium-high heat, sear short ribs. Add marinade, Thai chili, nuoc mao and 12 oz coconut juice; bring to a boil, then transfer to a 325° oven. Cook uncovered for an hour, add pepper and potatoes and cook covered for 30 minutes, then add bok choy and cook covered for 10 minutes.