Monday, February 3, 2014

Baby Back Ribs (with recipe)

I was in a conundrum this Chinese New Year.  The extraordinary wintry, snowy weather dampened the mood to slush down to Chinatown to stockpile on groceries.  As I look out the window now, swift, angled slashes of snow rain down furiously on the streets, yet unsalted and unplowed by our new and insufferable mayor.

CNY took place the day after a museum family event that I co-chaired, and two days before Superbowl.  Not that I am a football mom of any sort, but my little boy loves the game and I wanted to do something small and special.  Hence, I allocated time this weekend to preparing traditional party food such as guacamole, wings and ribs, as opposed to the elaborate and much more elegant Tok Panjang (a Nonya buffet spread).   Yet, I kept thinking of the babi panggang that my mother would order from our favorite Hainanese caterer, Ah Heng.  Charcoal-grilled belly pork with a special marinade, a distinct flavor and aroma and crispy skin, served up with kuak chye (pickled vegetable).  Not at all like the siew yoke (roast pork) commonly found alongside chicken rice

I made do with baby back ribs, for the time being.  Enjoy the recipe.

Hawaiian Side Street Ribs
(adapted from Saveur, May 2006)

Serves 6


7 pounds ribs, cut into 6- or 7- rib portions, slit halfway through between ribs

Ingredients for simmer 
1 whole garlic, chopped
4 inches knob ginger, chopped 
¾ cup rice vinegar 
¼ cup salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for sauce
2½ cups tomato ketchup
1½ cups orange juice
6 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ cup light brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped


Fill a pot with cold water, enough to cover the ribs.  Bring to boil over high heat. Add in the simmer ingredients.  Add in the ribs and bring to boil, then lower to a simmer, partially covered.  Simmer for at least an hour until the meat is tender. 

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cover partially. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, about an hour. 

After boiling the ribs, drain the ribs and leave the ribs to dry in a single layer on sheet pans.

Arrange the oven rack 3-4 inches from the broiler.  Preheat the broiler.  Brush both sides of the ribs with the sauce and broil the ribs, bone side up first, for 3 to 4 minutes.  Turn over the ribs and brush the meaty side with another coat of sauce.  Broil these meaty sides for another 3-4 minutes. 

Repeat this process another 2 times until the ribs are nicely coated and the meat looks well absorbed in the sauce.  Serve warm.  

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