Chinese-Style Barbecued Spareribs

From Cook's Country | June/July 2010

Why this recipe works:

We set out to make tender ribs that were seasoned to the bone, kissed with smoke, and covered with a garlicky, gingery glaze that we’d be happy to lick off our fingers.

Before we even started making our recipe for Chinese-Style Barbecue Spareribs we had to remove the tough membrane on the… read more

We set out to make tender ribs that were seasoned to the bone, kissed with smoke, and covered with a garlicky, gingery glaze that we’d be happy to lick off our fingers.

Before we even started making our recipe for Chinese-Style Barbecue Spareribs we had to remove the tough membrane on the underside of our ribs. While leaving it on would not affect the cooking procees, it’s unpleasant to eat and isn’t difficult to remove.

Instead of cooking the ribs on the grill the entire time, we found that cooking them in the sauce in the oven and then finishing them on the grill allowed for deeply seasoned chinese-style ribs and eliminated the need to marinate them.

Once we thought we had the flavors for our recipe nailed down, we realized the smoke from wood chips was overpowering the Asian flavors on our ribs. So we substituted the wood chips with Earl Grey tea bags soaked in water, wrapped in foil, and placed on the hot coals for a mellow, smoky flavor that complemented the Asian seasonings.

We tested a number of glazes and found that red currant jelly created a potent, sticky glaze. It was important to reapply the glaze when flipping the ribs every 30 minutes on the grill to ensure beautifully shellacked ribs.

less

Serves 6

Full-size spareribs are fatty, plus they're too large to fit on the grill. If you can't find St. Louis-cut spareribs (which have been trimmed of the brisket bone and surrounding meat), substitute baby back ribs and begin to check for doneness after 1 hour on the grill. Cover the edges of the ribs loosely with foil if they begin to burn while grilling.

Ingredients

  • 2 racks pork spareribs (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), preferably St. Louis-cut (see note)
  • 8 black tea bags (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup red currant jelly

Instructions

  1. 1. PREP RIBS AND TEA Following the photos below, remove membrane on underside of ribs. Cut rib racks in half. Cover tea bags with water in small bowl and soak for 5 minutes. Squeeze water from tea bags and tightly seal in foil packet. Cut vent holes in top of packet.

    2. STEAM RIBS Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Whisk 1 cup ketchup, soy sauce, hoisin, sugar, sherry, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and cayenne in large bowl; reserve ½ cup for glaze. Arrange ribs, meaty side down, in large disposable roasting pan and pour remaining ketchup mixture over ribs. Cover pan tightly with foil and cook until fat has rendered and meat begins to pull away from bones, 2 to 2½ hours. Transfer ribs to large plate. Pour pan juices into fat separator. Let liquid settle and reserve 1 cup defatted pan juices.

    3. MAKE GLAZE Simmer reserved pan juices over medium-high heat until reduced to ½ cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in jelly, reserved ketchup mixture, and remaining ketchup and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, 10 to 12 minutes. Reserve one-third of glaze for serving.

    4. SMOKE RIBS Open bottom vent on grill. Light about 100 coals; when -covered with fine gray ash, carefully pile on 1 side of grill. Arrange foil packet directly on coals. Set cooking grate in place and heat, covered, with lid vent open halfway, until tea begins to smoke heavily, about 5 minutes. (For gas grill, place foil packet directly on primary burner. Heat all burners on high, covered, until tea begins to smoke heavily, about 5 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and shut other burner[s] off.) Scrape and oil cooking grate. Arrange ribs, meaty side down, on cool side of grill and cook, covered, until ribs are smoky and edges begin to char, about 30 minutes.

    5. GLAZE RIBS Brush ribs with glaze, flip, rotate, and brush again. Cover and barbecue, brushing with glaze every 30 minutes, until ribs are fully tender and glaze is browned and sticky, 1 to 1½ hours. Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Serve with reserved glaze.

    MAKE AHEAD Ribs and glaze can be prepared through step 3 up to 2 days in advance. Once the ribs are cool, wrap tightly in foil and refrigerate. Transfer glaze to microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate. Before proceeding with step 4, allow ribs to stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Before proceeding with step 5, heat glaze in microwave on high power until warm, about 1 minute.

Removing the Membrane

Spareribs have a tough membrane on their underside that's unpleasant to eat. Fortunately, it's easy to remove. Here's how.

1. At one end of the rack, loosen the membrane with the tip of a paring knife.

2. Grab the membrane with a paper towel and pull slowly—it should come off in one piece.

A Gentler Way to Smoke

Pungent wood smoke overpowered the Asian spices in this recipe. For a more subtle smoke that enhanced the other seasonings, we turned to tea. To smoke with tea, soak 8 black tea bags (we like orange spice or Earl Grey) in water for 5 minutes, then tightly seal them in a foil packet. Cut vent holes in the top of the packet so the smoke can escape and set the packet on the coals.

In My Favorites
Please Wait…
Remove Favorite
Add to custom collection