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Braised Short Ribs with Black Bean Sauce in the Instant Pot

2018 July 28

黑豆炖牛肋骨 (Gluten-free)


You’ll won’t see this dish at most Chinese restaurants. This is a recipe similar to a dish I remember my mother making. Since beef ribs were expensive and her recipe took hours to make, she only made this for special occasions or when we had guests over for dinner. The remaining sauce was saved and reused in the next batch along with fresh ingredients. Over time, the saved sauce developed a richness that is nearly impossible to duplicate. This recipe comes close to what I remember. It doesn’t require old sauce, nor hours of cooking because of the Instant Pot. It has been tested and refined.

Since all the other ingredients are naturally gluten-free, substituting tamari instead of traditional soy sauce make this dish gluten-free. Most recipes call for soaking the black beans, but that removes too much of the flavor. The dish is supposed to be salty, flavorful, and meant to be eaten over steamed rice. Be sure to get properly prepared English-style beef ribs, which means the ribs should be separated and cut to 2 to 3 inch lengths. You can usually find this cut at Asian food stores.

Prep time: 10 minutes, cooking time: 75 minutes

Serves 4


1/2 cup salted fermented black beans

3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari

3 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon brown or raw sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

4 cloves garlic minced (about 4 teaspoons)

10-12 English-style beef short ribs, bone-in, trim excess fat & silver skin (about 3-4 lb.)1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cups of water

3 tablespoons cornstarch


1. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Very briefly rinse the black beans under cool water, dry with paper towels. In a bowl, toss the black beans with the tamari, rice wine, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic; set aside.

2. Preheat the Instant Pot by selecting Sauté. When heated, add the oil. Add about one-third of the ribs and arrange them in the pot to cover the bottom. Brown the ribs to render some of the fat, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer the ribs to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs.

3. Pour off all of the fat left in the Instant Pot, add the black bean mixture and sauté for about 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked off. Select Cancel and return the ribs and accumulated liquid to the pot, add 3-3/4 cups of the water, and stir to coat the ribs with the black bean mixture.

4. Secure the lid, close the pressure release, select Manual and cook at high-pressure for 35 minutes. It will take about 15-20 minutes for the pot to pressurize. Once cooking is complete, use a natural release. Release any remaining pressure after about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the ribs to a serving bowl. Some of the meat may fall off the bones, but don’t discard the bones. Tent the bowl loosely with foil. Pour the remaining liquid into a fat separator and set aside to settle. 

6. Pour the defatted sauce back into the Instant Pot and select Sauté. Allow the sauce to come to a boil. Whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/4 cup of water to dissolve, then whisk into the sauce. Continue simmering the sauce, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 4 minutes. Pour some of the sauce over the ribs and reserve the rest to serve at the table.

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