Our son’s all time favourite meals is ribs. Caveman style. Huge meaty racks of them, covered in a sticky marinade, braised in the oven until soft and tender, and finished on the barbecue until nicely charred and lightly caramelised. As close to heaven as it gets for any teenage boy. The great rib debate has been an ongoing topic of conversation in our house this summer. Our daughters’ preference, is for the more unctuous, meatier pork belly style of ribs. Ironically prepared in exactly the same way as their bonier counterparts, but a little more ladylike to devour.
By my son’s reckoning the best ribs are made by his mate’s dad, Dara. Racks of baby back ribs smothered in a spicy Asian inspired ginger, chilli and garlic infused marinade. Always a fixture on the barbeque at any gathering at his mate’s place. Fortunately, Dara was kind enough to generously share his recipe. The all important secret ingredient in his marinade? Hoisin sauce and plenty of chilli, ginger and garlic. A perfect balance of hot, sweet, salty and sour.
Achieving perfect, drool worthy ribs every time is easy when you know how. For maximum flavour it is best to marinate the ribs in the refrigerator overnight. For a tender, melt in the mouth, meat pulling away off the bone result, they need to be baked in a moderate oven for an hour to an hour and a half. These two steps can be completed well ahead of time, making this the perfect solution to feeding any hungry horde. All they require just before serving is a quick char grill on a preheated barbecue.
We were so excited to road test the recipe ourselves, we tried it with both styles of ribs, rack and belly. One bite, we were sold. Lip smacking and finger licking good, a huge mountain of ribs disappeared fast. Embarrassingly shared amongst just six people. This recipe is definitely for the committed carnivore.
Barbecued Spare Ribs, Two Ways. Rack or Belly. With Dara’s Asian Inspired Marinade
For best results start this recipe a day ahead.
2 kg pork belly ribs or 3-4 medium racks pork spareribs
3 – 4 cloves garlic, chopped (add more if so inclined)
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (add more if so inclined)
2 long red chillies, chopped (add more if so inclined)
¼ cup of tomato or barbecue sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup of honey
2 tablespoons hoi-sin sauce
scant ¼ cup of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
The Day Before
PULSE all the marinade ingredients together in the bowl of a food processor. Marinade should be reasonably thick in consistency. Set aside.
PLACE the ribs into a large resealable bag or glass or ceramic dish. Coat the ribs with marinade. If using a dish, cover tightly with cling film.
MARINATE the ribs In the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or even better overnight.
PREHEAT oven to 175 C.
WRAP ribs in a double thickness layer of foil. Place on an oven tray and bake for one to one and a half hours, until ribs are tender.
UNWRAP the ribs. The marinade will have gone to liquid in the oven. Remove the ribs to a large tray and pour the marinade into a jug.
When Ready To Serve
PREHEAT BBQ grill to medium heat.
PLACE ribs on the grill. Brush with a little of the reserved marinade and barbecue for 6–8 minutes on each side. The ribs should be nicely charred and caramelised when done.
TRANSFER ribs to a serving platter. If using a rack of ribs, cut the rack into serving size portions. Drizzle with a little extra marinade and serve immediately.