Flanken is a specific cut of meat used for preparing beef short ribs. It is often used in Asian dishes, but has found a following among American outdoor grill enthusiasts for its ease in cooking. Flanken also makes excellent boiling or stewing meat, and is served as part of a Jewish dish of the same name.
This cut of meat is differentiated from others by the way the meat and bone is cut and presented. Instead of cutting through the meat between each rib, the ribs are cut lengthwise. This results in strips of meat with medallions of bone in them. Traditionally, the meat and bone is cut around 0.25 inch (0.62 cm) thick.
There is often confusion as to what exactly constitutes flanken. The "LA Kalbi" is another version of flanken cut, around 0.125 inch (0.3 cm) thick. It has become popular in Los Angeles restaurants specializing in Korean food, thus the name. Though there is controversy as to whether the thinner cut was developed exclusively in LA restaurants, Hawaii, or Germany, it is still considered a flanken style cut.
Opinions vary as to the reasoning behind this method of cutting ribs. The thinner cut allows for quicker cooking times, and may result in a tenderer meat. The medallions of bone, which can be easily pushed out once the meat is cooked, may also make for easier eating than gnawing meat off of large ribs. The fact that the meat is cut across the grain may also allow any marinades to penetrate more deeply into the meat.
This cut of meat can be added to many different dishes and cooked in several different ways. It can be boiled or stewed with other ingredients, or marinated or dry rubbed with spices and grilled as a main dish. Since the meat is somewhat tough, cooks will often marinate it overnight in order to add flavor and tenderize it.
Flanken is also a main feature in several well-known dishes. In the Jewish dish of the same name, flanken is often served with a side of horseradish. It is a common cut used in Korean dishes, which are marinated in soy-sauce-based sauces and grilled. Flanken is not as ubiquitous in US as the short cut "rack" of beef ribs, but many cooks prize it for its grilling properties. The thinner cut of the meat allows for quicker cooking times, and the chewy rib meat adds variety in summer when burgers and sausages are the usual grill fare.