A fragrant mouth-tingling Sichuan pepper dry rub is a punchy pairing to medium rare grilled short rib.
There are certain spices that are ubiquitous in the grilling and BBQ world – paprika, coarse pepper, even sugar plays a huge roll. But perhaps the most unappreciated, unknown and plain underrated is the Sichuan peppercorn.
Sichuan peppercorns can be found at your local Asian market or online. They are very different from regular black peppercorns, not only in appearance but in flavor and, believe it or not, sensation. Sichuan (also called Szechuan) pepper is pungent, fragrant and has an unusual tingling and numbing sensation in the mouth. It’s incredible when paired with beef. They’re both bold and punchy flavors, so neither one overpowers the other. So moral of the story – don’t substitute them or this recipe will just not be the same!
And so to the beef. Though beef ribs are traditionally braised and cooked long and hard until falling apart, a beautifully marbled specimen is just destined to be cooked to medium rare. Sure, it has a bit of chew, but the flavor is incredible. Besides, you’re supposed to chew steaks!
To accurately ensure your meat is cooking to the perfect medium rare stage of doneness, you’ll want to employ the use of a meat thermometer. I use and recommend the Thermapen, which is an instant read and highly precise unit. It also comes properly calibrated so all you have to do is cook the meat to 130-135f and let it rest some.
This recipe also employs the two zone grilling method. This creates a hot and cool side on your grill to give you greater control when cooking. To see how to set it up, check this article.
Heat a grill for medium heat two zone grilling. So, you should have the coals to one side, and the hot side should be around 350-450f.
Prepare the dry rub:
Toast the peppercorns in a dry skillet over low heat until fragrant, swirling them in the pan to keep from burning (about 2 minutes).
Allow the peppercorns to cool slightly, then add to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, along with the five spice, garlic powder and salt. Blitz or crush until a fine powder has formed.
To cook the meat:
Prepare the short ribs for grilling by patting with a paper towel, then slathering on dry rub, and rubbing in well on all sides of the meat. Ideally, you want to use a whole slab of rib (as the Lone Mountain one comes) because it will have a better grilling result than using the short rib ‘fingers’ that have been sliced.
Place the meat onto the hot side of the grill, and grill 3-4 minutes per side to sear, being cautious not to burn the dry rubbed spice. Once you have seared the meat, move it to the cool side of the grill, so it can finish cooking without the spices burning. Continue to cook until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 136-138f.
Remove ribs from heat once at temperature, and place on a board. Cover loosely with foil, and rest for 10 minutes. Slice against grain and serve.