Coconut Grits with Vietnamese Short Ribs

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 30 min
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 4 servings
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For the Short Ribs:

3 pounds bone-in short ribs (8 or 9)

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 cloves garlic, smashed

3 shallots, chopped

1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced

1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, cut into 3-inch pieces and smashed with the flat side of a knife

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

3 star anise pods

2 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce

For the Grits:

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

Kosher salt

1 cup old-fashioned grits (not instant or quick-cooking)

Pickled vegetables, for topping (see right) 

Torn fresh cilantro and/or mint, for topping


  1. Make the short ribs: Preheat the oven to 325˚. Toss the short ribs with the five-spice powder and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and cook, turning, until browned, 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and spoon off all but a thin layer of the drippings. Add the garlic, shallots, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon and star anise to the pot and cook, stirring, until the garlic and shallots are softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir 2 1/2 cups water, the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons each brown sugar and rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and the chili-garlic sauce into the pot. Return the short ribs to the pot in a single layer. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake until the meat is very tender, adding up to 1/2 cup more water if the pot is too dry, about 2 1/2 hours. 
  3. Remove the short ribs to a plate; discard the bones. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl or fat separator. Skim or pour off any excess fat, then pour the liquid into a large skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon each brown sugar and rice vinegar and the remaining 1 teaspoon fish sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Return the short ribs to the skillet and continue to cook, turning often, until glazed, 4 to 8 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the grits: Combine the coconut milk, 2 1/2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Gradually add the grits, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. If the grits seem too thick, thin with water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. 
  5. Divide the grits among 4 shallow bowls. Top with the short ribs and pickled vegetables. Sprinkle with cilantro and mint.