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What is Flanken?

By Erica Stratton
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By OeKc05 — On Jan 12, 2012

I love beef flanken ribs. My friends think I'm strange to prefer soy sauce over barbecue sauce as a marinade, but to me, it is so much better.

I have always preferred Asian food over American food, even though I was born and raised in the United States. To me, adding a little soy or teriyaki sauce to any kind of meat makes it instantly delicious.

One of my friends even tried to trick me. She bought flanken ribs, but then she marinated them in barbecue sauce. When she told me she was making flanken ribs, I automatically assumed they would be marinated in soy sauce, as she knew I would.

When I eat beef flanken ribs in soy sauce, I feel like I am dining at a gourmet Asian restaurant. My friends can keep their barbecue for themselves.

By kylee07drg — On Jan 11, 2012

I like to make beef flanken stew. It is my mother's recipe, but I use flanken instead of stew meat without the bone. I feel that it gives the stew more of a beefy flavor.

I cook the meat first. I sautee it until the juices evaporate. Then, I can push the bones out before adding the other ingredients.

I add some water to the meat, and I use celery, potatoes, carrots, and onions, along with some basil. I boil all of this together for about an hour, and it tastes so delicious that we eat the leftovers all week.

By Oceana — On Jan 10, 2012

@shell4life – Sure, you can! My favorite flanken short ribs recipe involves using cola, and it is the secret ingredient that makes it wonderful. I have made it without the cola before, and it wasn't very special at all.

I take some flanken short ribs and place them in a container that has a lid. Then, I add some teriyaki sauce, green onions, and cola. I marinate the flanken for four hours inside the fridge.

I grill them on a charcoal grill, and they cook pretty quickly. I agree with you about the cola acting as a meat tenderizer. They are so juicy and tender when you put them in your mouth.

By shell4life — On Jan 09, 2012

Does anyone know if you can marinate flanken in cola? I have marinated other cuts of meat in this before, and the resulting taste is awesome.

I think that the carbonation in the cola tenderizes the meat. I have even used cherry cola before for extra flavor, and everyone loved it.

I want to get some flanken to grill for my Korean neighbor's birthday party that I am hosting next month. I would love to prepare it the same way as the other meat that turned out so well, but I don't want to make it fall apart or anything.

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