As soon as I got home from Costa Rica, I was instantly craving some good Central American cuisine, so I decided to make myself tacos lol. These beef short rib tacos have a little bit of a Vietnamese twist because the short ribs are cooked in pho spices. I love the idea of marrying Asian flavors with classic dishes like tacos because it’s just so darn good.
Making the beef short ribs
The core part of these beef short rib tacos is of course the short ribs. These things are one of my favorite ingredients. Even though they have a tough texture, if you cook them low and slow, the resulting meat tastes magical. I cooked these short ribs in a bath of wine, beef broth (Better than Bouillon beef base + water), and soy sauce spiced up with star anise, coriander, fennel seeds, a cinnamon stick, and a bay leaf for about 3 hours. For short ribs, I would generally recommend a minimum cook time of 2.5 hours because any less time, and the meat will still be pretty tough.
How I chose the toppings for this dish
Short ribs are a heavy protein, so I chose toppings that were light and fresh to contrast with the meat. The toppings I chose were avocado crema, pineapple, and red onion. You can also add a little bit of cilantro if you want. The pineapple was inspired by my trip to Santa Teresa. There was a place called the Taco Corner that had THE BEST tacos, and their shrimp tacos had grilled pineapple.
Heat your tortilla directly over the fire
This was a trick I learned from my cousin who is a boss at making Mexican food. Heat your tortillas directly over the fire on a gas stove. You want to do this because they get really crispy and hold the wet ingredients in your taco. If you skip this step, the tortilla tends to fall apart under the weight of your filling. If you don’t have a gas stove, use a pan and heat on both sides until warm. This doesn’t work as well, so I would be careful how much filling you add to your taco.
Beef Short Rib Tacos with Avocado Crema
- 1 ½ lb short ribs
- ½ yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- ⅔ cup red wine
- 2 tbsp Better Than Bouillon beef base
- 6 cups water
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 star anise
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ avocado
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lime
- 1 tbsp cilantro
- ¼ cup pineapple minced
- ¼ cup red onions minced
- 8 flour tortillas
- Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Make sure to get the seasoning on all sides.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a dutch oven and sear the short ribs on all sides over medium high heat. After searing, set short ribs aside.
- Add the onions to the dutch oven and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.Deglaze the pan with red wine and cook until the alcohol is burned out. If you can't smell the alcohol anymore, it has burned out.
- Add in the beef base, water, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, add the short ribs back to the dutch oven with the star anise, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf.
- Lower the heat to low. Cook the short ribs on low heat for 3 hours.
- Once done, shred the meat and toss away the bones. You can keep the liquid if you want, but I usually just toss that as well.
- Make the avocado crema. Add the avocado, sour cream, water, salt, juice of 1 lime, and cilantro to a food processor. Pulse until a smooth consistency. Set aside.
- Heat the flour tortillas directly over the fire on a gas stove. Leave the tortilla over the fire for 10 seconds on each side. If you have an electric stove, heat the flour tortillas in a pan until they are warm on both sides.
- Now you're ready to assemble your tacos! Add a few spoonfuls of the short ribs to a tortilla. Top with the avocado crema, red onion, and pineapple. Enjoy!