I wish I could be more comfortable eating ribs in public but, the reality is, I enjoy eating them more in the comfort and privacy of my home; somewhere where I can gnaw at the bone like a messy cavewoman and lick my fingers with glee. I think it is definitely a dish best eaten in the company of a few close friends (and certainly never on a first date), particularly since you can only make so much at one time anyway.
I cook pork ribs quite frequently, often using a Vietnamese marinade comprising of lemongrass, chilli, garlic and fish sauce. But once in a while, I like to experiment with some different recipes, and this recipe for Hoisin & Ginger Pork Ribs from Chinatown Kitchen by Lizzie Mabbott has been a great find.
I love that the marinade consists of many of your Asian cooking staples and that the marinade is later cooked down to produce a sauce to serve alongside the ribs. Hoisin sauce forms the main ingredient in the marinade, giving the ribs a lovely sweet and fruity flavour. The recipe is kiddie-friendly in that it is absent of any chillies in the marinade, but I love to have a spicy kick with my pork ribs, so a generous garnish of freshly chopped chillies is a must for me.
To make this into a complete meal, I like to serve the ribs with some steamed rice and a fresh salad. And I realise that the original recipe states that it serves 4, but my husband and I can easily devour this quantity between the two of us.
- 1.5 kg (3 lb) rack of pork ribs
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 15 cm (6 inch) piece of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
- 160 ml (5½ fl oz) hoisin sauce (I prefer Lee Kum Kee brand)
- zest of 1 orange
- 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato purée
- 1 teaspoon sherry or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- Slice the racks of ribs into segments with 3 or 4 bones on each.
- Place all of the remaining ingredients into a food processor and whizz until you have a smooth consistency.
- Place the the ribs into a large ziplock freezer bag and pour the marinade into the bag. Use your hands to make sure the ribs are completely coated in the marinade. To ensure against leakage, I would put everything into another ziplock freezer bag. Seal the bag and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Take the ribs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature (this will take about 20-30 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a large roasting tray with foil and place a roasting rack over it. Pour some boiling water into the tray, but the water should not touch the meat when on the rack. Otherwise, if your rack is not high enough, you can skip adding water to the tray (which helps to create steam to cook the meat without drying it out too much).
- Place the ribs onto the rack, but reserve the marinade.
- Roast for 30 minutes, and then turn the oven temperature down to 160°C (325°F). Roast for a further hour, turning the ribs once or twice during this time to get an even colouring. Add more water to the tray if needed.
- Meanwhile, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to the boil. Let it simmer at medium heat for about 5 minutes and until it has reduced and thickened slightly.
- Serve the ribs with the sauce drizzled on top.
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