If I was told that the world will end tomorrow I would have one thing on my mind, “shit! What am I going to eat for dinner?” One of the ingredients racing through my mind that had to be eaten one more time would be sticky pork ribs. Pork being the most widely eaten meat in the world, I’m sure that I’m not alone in thinking this recipe is worthy of a last supper.
I happened to have a little spare kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy) leftover from a previous recipe, so I used it as a base for my rib marinade. Lemongrass, fresh chillies, white peppercorns and kaffir lime leaf all come together to make this marinade a Thai sensation. The inclusion of all these typically Thai ingredients gives the rib meat a flavour balance consisting of sweet, salty and hot that is to die for – if you are anything like me and my flat mate you will keep eating until it hurts.
Now first things first, what are all the different cuts of meat that come from a pork rib? If you are anything like me you probably assume that a pork rib is a pork rib, which change in size as they follow the spine. However this is just a milestone in the labyrinth that is pork rib cuts. So let me squeeze it into a nutshell for you so we all have a clearer understanding for the future.
Right, so pigs have fourteen rib bones attached to their spine, which most popularly are split into four cuts of meat; baby-back ribs, spare ribs, St Louis cut ribs (spare baby-back ribs) and rib tips.
Starting from the top are the baby-backs, closest to the back bone. These are distinguishable by their curved shape and small bone. The meat found at the top of these ribs is said to be the most tender. As you move further down the spine the ribs become larger, flatter and wider with more meat between each rib – these are known as the spare ribs. There are endless ways to order this cut of meat e.g. 3 & up, 4 & over, this is just butcher slang for the weight of a cut of spare ribs (you still with me?).
We then come to the spare baby-back ribs. These are not the same as baby back ribs, nor do they necessarily come from young tender pigs. These are spare ribs made smaller by removing the rib tips (which can be eaten as small, roughly three centimeter long bones). These are more commonly known as St. Louis cut ribs, nonetheless some butchers call them baby spareribs to capitalise on the popularity of baby back ribs. Anyway lecture over and hopefully, as I did, we have all learned something new about pork ribs.
For this dish I used a whole rack of pork ribs straight from the abattoir for me and my flat mate to pig out on (excuse the pun). Now the meat from a rib is subject to lots of movement during life, as a result of the animal breathing. For this reason if you throw them straight onto a barbecue, eating them will resemble chewing the grip off of a tennis racket. Unless this is your thing? We will try and avoid this by cooking the ribs low and slow until they are tender enough to melt in your mouth.
That’s enough from me for today so get stuck in and enjoy your dinner.
(Serves 2-3 people, takes 3 hours with minimal effort)
-1 rack, pork ribs
-300ml, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy) found in most oriental supermarkets and large supermarkets).
-1 stick, lemongrass, sliced wafer thin
-2 fresh, long red chillies, thinly sliced
-2 fresh long green chillies, thinly sliced
– 1 fresh birds eye chilli, thinly sliced
-2 kaffir lime leaf, thinly sliced, stems removed
– 2 tbsp, white peppercorns, spice grinded or pestle and mortared to a powder
-2tbsp, cumin seeds, spice grinded or pestle and mortared to a powder
-1 fresh lime
-1 handful (roughly 75g) coriander, washed and picked
- This is the beauty of cooking ribs in this way, it takes minutes to throw together so all you have to do is wait for the magic to happen. Firstly pre heat your oven to 180 degrees. Whilst that heats, make the marinade by combining the kecap manis, lemongrass, kaffir lime, chillies, cumin and white peppercorns into one mixture.
- Next coat the ribs in the marinade, using your hands to rub all the meat with the mixture. Now at this stage if you are prepared the meat can be left in the fridge (ideally for 6 hours) to marinate. However if you are hungry, cover them in tin foil and put them straight in the oven, cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
- If you are barbecuing, the ribs can be taken straight out of the oven and placed on the barbecue grill to colour, basting regularly with the leftover marinade. If not, place the ribs on a plate and garnish with lime wedges and coriander. These ribs are great served with some steamed jasmine rice.
Thanks very much for stopping by at Articuleat and I hope you have enjoyed your stay. I always look forward to your feedback so please don’t hesitate to get in touch for any reason whatsoever – I will reply as swiftly as possible.
See you next time,