Sunshine and Sundays go hand in hand with barbeque food. By this, I’m not referring to charred sausages, tainted more by charcoal that BBQ sauce, or dry, singed beef burgers sandwiched between rolls which have long since curled around their edges, dried out in the midday sun. To me, the BBQ season invokes my love of experimenting with meat, fish and marinades. Although meat tends to take centre stage, and for good reason, I still find it exciting to create and produce interesting salads and vegetable dishes to serve alongside the main stars of the show. Specialities of mine, and I must admit, my “go to” BBQ sides, include; sourdough, lardon and roquefort salad (a feast in itself), roasted garlic new potatoes with crispy pancetta, chargrilled asparagus spears and spicy buttered corn on the cob.
This weekend however, I chose to give meat centre stage with my version of Asian style bbq ribs. Now, any of my friends will tell you just how obsessed with ribs I am, having once won an eating competition involving baby-back ribs and BBQ sauce. Usually I prefer a sweet and smoky, hicory style, bbq sauce, smothered over my slow cooked, meltingly tender and juicy ribs. Yet, this week, I wanted to experiment with a different style of marinade so turned to the Far East for inspiration.
The marinade and glaze for these ribs was something I threw together with a general notion of sweet, salty and sour notes, the holy trinity of Asian cookery. Rounded off with a hint of spice through fresh red chillis, these are a delectably moreish starter to any good BBQ. The ribs are slowly cooked in their marinade to gently coax the meat away from the bone. They are then lovingly turned and glazed over hot coals to create a sweet and sticky, finger licking glaze. The recipe below is by no means set in stone, please feel free to ad lib with the quantities and ingredients, substituting where sensible for ease of buying new ingredients.
Rice wine vinegar would be ideal in the marinade but unfortunately white wine vinegar was all I had to hand, likewise sweet chilli sauce in the glaze could be substituted for some extra honey and dried chilli flakes.
BBQ Asian Sticky Ribs
(Serves 2 to 3 as a starter)
For the marinade
c.500g pork ribs
2 red chillis, finely sliced (seeds and all)
2cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped (skin on)
2 garlic cloves, bashed with the back of a knife, (skin on)
2 tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 tbsp soy sauce
Good pinch of salt and pepper
For The Glaze
2.5 tbsp honey
2.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 red chilli, finely sliced (seeds and all)
50g salted peanuts, crushed
Mix all the marinade ingredients together and massage into the ribs. Leave to marinade for at least an hour or up to 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a roasting tin with foil and place the ribs in the tray, pour over all of the marinade (ginger, chillis and all), cover tightly with foil and cook for around two hours or until the meat is tender and is just starting to come away easily from the bone. Remove from the tin, discarding the marinade ingredients.
Whisk together the glaze ingredients and lightly brush over the cooked ribs. Place onto a bbq at a medium heat and brush again with the marinade. Turn after 5 minutes and brush with the marinade again. Turn after another 4-5 minutes and brush with the remaining marinade.
The ribs are ready when they are a deep and charred shade of sticky mahogany brown.
Serve sprinkled with the chillis and peanuts and dive in, napkins at the ready.