Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Asian Sticky Plum Sauce Ribs [Zack]

Ribs are one of my favorite things to eat.  Pete (my former roommate) and I have spent numerous hours planning, dreaming, and cooking ribs.  I have tried making them with 4 or 5 different pre-cooking methods, and have made many different BBQ sauces to accompany them.  I've even competed in a rib-cooking contest against June when I was living in Jacksonville.  

In Belgium, most people / restaurants don't know how to cook good ribs.  They don't get close to Texas or even the ribs we used to smoke in our backyard.  Although this is a bit depressing, ribs are very inexpensive in the grocery store because nobody cooks them.  

Baking covered ribs in the oven is interesting because you can easily control their firmness by varying the cooking time.  All you have to do is pull them out of the oven and check them with a knife or wiggle a bone a bit to tell how well-cooked they are.  For this recipe, I chose to keep these just on the firm side of  "totally-fall-off-the-bone" because that's more in line with the firmness you get at Chinese restaurants.  You do what you like.


Remove the silver skin from the concave side of the ribs (the bonyside).  This membrane is always left on store-bought ribs for some reasonand it never does you any good.  It not only makes the ribs tougher, and italso locks out flavor!

To remove, stick the point of a knife just under the silver skin tomake a little hole for your finger.  

Then slide your finger between thesilver skin and the meat and start working more of it loose.  

Once you geta good grip on it, slowly pull it off.  Think one of those annoyingstickers that you try to get off the bottom of that new coffee mug all in one piece.

Mix together your dry rub spices in a bowl and dust theribs.  

You shouldn’t cake them withspices, but put enough on so it has a good coating.  If you want, you can cover these up and putthem in the fridge for a day or 2 so it absorbs some extra flavor.

Cover the ribs with aluminum foil and place them into theoven at 250F / 125C for 3 hours or so.  Ican’t tell you an exact cooking time because there are a ton of variables that you’dneed to take into account (for example: the thickness of the ribs, how closeyou put them to each other in the tray, whether you want the meat to fall offthe bone or be a bit more firm).  The wayto test for your desired texture is to pull them out after 2.5 hours and sticka knife into one.  If it slides in veryeasily and you can wiggle an end bone around a bit in the meat, it will befall-off-the-bone tender.  Re-cover and put them back in the oven if you want more tenderness.

Good news: ribs are very forgiving – if you end upovercooking them in the oven and the meat simply falls off the bone when youtry to cut them into individual ribs, you have pulled pork for sandwiches!

While your ribs are cooking in the oven, it’s time toprepare your plum sauce.  

You’ll want tocook this sauce down for at least 30 minutes on low heat, so make sure you planahead on this one a bit.  Dice or slice theplums (skin-on is okay), ginger, garlic,onion, and single chile and place them all into thefood processor.  Pulse the food processorto blend the ingredients until they are smooth. Add in the hoisin and other liquids and blend to integrate. 

Cook the sauce on low heat until it is thick, syrupy, andhas changed color to a deep purple.  Ifit’s thick enough, the sauce will stick to the ribs and the sugars in the honeyand brown sugar will caramelize from your heat source. 

If you have a grill (I’m jealous):

Leave the ribs whole and coat with the reduced plum sauce.  Caramelize them on the grill, then separate toserve.

If you’re stuck using your oven (like me):

Put the ribs on a cutting board and slice between each bone.  

Put the sliced ribs back into your bakingdish and toss with the reduced plum sauce. You want an even coating.  

Set youroven on high broil, and put them on the middle rack.  Keep an eye on them – you want to brown thesauce, not burn it.  Toss them once youget a nice color on one side so you have even browning all over them.

Transfer either method to a plate and top with diced cilantro.  You can serve with a bit of fried rice (2cups day-old rice, ½ sliced red onion, 1 T sesame oil, 1 T soy sauce – cook toheat up).

2 racks of baby back ribs (serves 2 hungry people or 3 mortals)

Dry Rub:
1 T Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp 5 spice powder
3/4 T seasoned salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp coriander powder

Sticky Plum Sauce:
2 inches ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 birdseye chile
2 T hoisin sauce
1 T soy sauce
4 plums
3 T honey
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil

A funky rib song:  D'angelo - Playa Playa

1 comment:

  1. wish I could get an order of these to go, no questions asked