There are millions of variations to rib preparation and just as many flavors. Beef, pork, sauce, smoked, dry rub … it’s all delicious. Here’s the skinny on ribs.
Ribs are to watching football at home on Sunday afternoon as a hot dog is to watching a baseball game, probably because they come naturally on their very own sticks.
Muscles that worked less, taste better
First of all, whether you’re eating pork or beef ribs, both tend to be very tender when cooked properly. It’s the result of being muscles that get relatively little workout in the animal’s life. Of course, this means that ribs tend to be fattier than tougher cuts, and it’s one of the reasons that ribs get a bad rap.
However, reducing the fatty quotient of ribs is as simple as taking a sharp knife to them and trimming some fat away before cooking. What’s left is simply tender and flavorful meat.
How to do it
How best to prepare ribs seems to be a largely regional debate.
- St. Louis-style: Pork ribs are heavy on liquid sauces with a tomato base and thinned with vinegar. St. Louis ribs are generally cooked over a low heat for a long time, referred to colloquially as ‘low and slow.’
- Texas-style: Ribs here are predominantly beef. Texans trend towards spicy rubs (instead of sauces), low on the sugar, applied sparingly — a thin layer is all you need. However, similar to St. Louis, the cooking approach has is a low and slow style in Texas.
- Memphis-style: In Tennessee they like pork ribs. They are liberal with their uses of dry rubs before smoking the ribs. You might also see Memphis grill masters periodically applying a ‘mop’ of dry rub mixed with a bit of water and some ketchup to keep the ribs from losing moisture. Serve with some mustard or tomato-based sauce on the side only.
- Asian-style: To ensure the most tender meat, ribs prepared Asian-style are often parboiled and marinated before going into an oven on a low temperature. The marinades are sweeter than for most American-style ribs.
Today’s recipe follows the Asian style. It uses a sparing amount of sweetener — honey — and can be easily prepared in the kitchen. No expensive smokers or grills required.
Ribs with Asian Barbecue Sauce
- ⅓ cup plum sauce
- ½ cup hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup oyster sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon orange rind
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice
- 2 racks of ribs, baby back
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Trim visible fat from the ribs.
- Remove the white membrane from the underside of the ribs. This will allow the marinade to better penetrate the meat.
- Place the ribs in the boiling water, turn the heat to medium/low, and boil for 45 minutes.
- While the ribs boil, create the marinade by combining all the other ingredients in a medium bowl. Ladle ¾ of the marinade into a resealable plastic bag large enough to hold all the ribs. Set aside ¼ of the marinade for step 8.
- Remove the ribs from the water and rinse under cool, running water. Cut into single or double bones.
- Place the cooled ribs into the plastic bag with marinade. Close the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, up to 24.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator, discard the marinade, and place the ribs on a broiling pan.
- Cook for 20 minutes then baste with the remaining marinade.
- Cook for 10 more minutes.
Here are some of those regional recipes that you can fairly easily execute in your own kitchen:
Texas-style Barbecue Beef Ribs