Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sticky Ribs

I've always been somewhat scared of cooking ribs.  I have no idea why, although I would imagine it's because mum never ever cooked them at home. I love them, and since pork is so damned tasty in this country, thought I'd try them.  Read up a bit out of them and decided I'd try and find "babyback" or "loin" ribs rather than spare ribs, as they have more meat and less bone and fat (even though apparently it's harder to get them as tender, but hey, I'm a big believer in the slow food movement, and understand that even the toughest cut of meat can become the tenderest when treated right!)

This recipe is just an idea more than a fixed thing.  The sauce is completely your choice, it's the method I'm actually focussing on here. 

Just to make this clear, this recipe has 2 parts.  You can choose to make these 2 parts over a few hours, but I highly recommend making part one the night before, or even 2 nights before as I did.   I believe this is the reason they turned out so incredibly fall off the bone tender and juicy :)

Regarding the spices I used for flavouring, it's really a matter of choice.  I had a jar of Char Siu sauce so I decided to stick to Chinese flavourings, but really, it was a complete gamble.You have the freedom to choose whether to simmer (part one) in plain water, or add some flavourings, you have the choice of whether to make your own sticky sauce for afterwards.. As I said, this is essentially the method, but I will tell what spices i used because dayammmm, they be tasty sticky ribs! :D


Part one:
Baby back ribs, 1/2-1 racks per person
A good sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns (maybe about 20)
Ground ginger and Chinese 5 spice, a good teaspoon of each.
Garlic, couple of cloves, chopped roughly
A couple of tablespoons of dark soy
Sauce - I used Char Siu sauce as I had a jar of it in the fridge.  But you can use Bbq sauce, or make your own, or use honey/soy/hoisin sauce mix, it's completely up to you! 

Place ribs in a large pot, so that they sit comfortably.  Fill the pot with water until the ribs are just covered.  Add all the spices and bring to a boil.  As soon as it boils, cover, turn the heat to the lowest (maybe even change to the smallest burner), and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Take the ribs out of the water, and place into a large ziplock bag. Pour enough sauce over them to cover well, mix around till they are all coated, seal the bag (if not using ziplocks, I would suggest placing the bag into another bag to ensure they are sealed, and place in fridge to marinade for at least 1 hour but ideally at the very least overnight.  Every now and then, when i'd open the fridge to get something else out, i'd mix up the bag a little just to make sure the marinade was really getting in everywhere.  This step will help the sauce really get in there, as well as make the meat super tender (even though the simmering would have made them pretty tender already!)

Part 2
This is the easiest step in existence.
Turn the oven on 200C
prepare a roasting/baking dish by lining it with foil (makes clean up so much easier, sticky sauce is annoying like that!)
I took the ribs out of the fridge about an hour before to bring them as close to room temperature as I could.  I believe meat cooks better when you start it off at room temperature. 
Open the ziplock bag, chuck the ribs into the baking dish, and place in the oven for 30 minutes until they are lovely, sticky and heated well all the way through.  I turned them around once to ensure even stickyness and deliciousness.

I served them with steamed spinach as I'm trying to watch the carb levels, but ideally, these would be served with new potatoes that have been boiled until fork tender in salted water, and then the potatoes are thrown with the ribs into the baking dish to turn a little golden. 


Remember!  Serve these with a little bowl to place the bones in, napkins and ideally even a finger bowl to rinse off your sticky finger (after you lick them, because this is the kind of dish that requires a good finger licking :P).

yum yum! :D

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