There’s a do-or-die test coming up and what better way to treat your mates when they all come over to watch than cooking up a big bowl of ribs.
This recipe comes courtesy of Craig in Queenstown who I hope will make regular contributions to the culinary meaty delights you’ll find here on Meateaters.
Sufficient ribs to feed the clan – get the butcher to bandsaw them in half again if you need dainty finger food sized morsels. Or leave them joined together as a strip.
2 tablespoons szchuan peppercorns
3 – 4 cloves of Garlic
4 thin slices fresh ginger
3 fresh chillies (depending how hot you like it)
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce (available in most specialty food stores and good supermarkets)
Splash of rice vinegar or other good quality white vinegar (cider vinegar would work well too)
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Splash of sesame oil
2 to 3 tablespoons of good quality cooking oil
In a dry saucepan roast the szchuan peppercorns until fragrant. They will smoke a little which is good but if they burn they are stuffed
Finely chop garlic, ginger and chillis (g, g,+c).
Grind peppercorns with a mortar and pestle into a fine powder. Add g, g,+c and lemon zest and grind together. The pepper should act as grist for the grinding but feel to add a little sea salt to help things along as well. If you really have to, you could use a food processor but the mortar and pestle is a very cool accoutrement to any kitchen. I scored a second hand one in Ranfurly (it is a place as well as a shield) last weekend for just $16.
Add hoisin sauce and both oils to this mix – you may want to use a mixing bowl but if you’re careful it should all fit into the mortar (the pestle is the pounding piece) and mix to a smooth paste. Add vinegar to the paste and check for consistency – think of it as a piquant spread that you are going to love your ribs with. Add cooking oil or lemon juice if it’s too thick, more hoisin if it’s too thin.
Here comes the loving part – massage this mixture onto the ribs until well coated. Not too thick and not too thin.Cover and let the meat marinate in the fridge for at least an hour – over night even better but really, who is that organised these days?
Heat the oven to 175ish C, place ribs in a roasting dish and cover with tin foil. Bake ribs in the oven for 90 minutes or so. Add a bit of water to the bottom of the pan if things are looking too dry (we’re trying to steam these babies not bake them into bacon bones so long and slow is best). Turn occassionally – the ribs will have a natural high side and a low ‘cup’ side. Turning them will alternately keep things from sticking as well as basted.
I figure on 2 to 2 1/2 hours cooking time so no rush – it’s a lot easier to speed these up than slow them down.
Once the meat is almost cooked (easily pierced with a knife tip but not falling apart) you have a choice to finish them off on a barbecue or in the oven. If your barbecue skills are such that even a sausage gets murdered on the hot-plate then stick to the oven as I am in this recipe. A capable barbecue cook could fly solo from here if there is a hankering for charcoal time.
Uncover the ribs and leave them to brown in the oven for about 1/2 an hour – increase the temperature to 200 C if necessary.
The ribs are ready when the meat is nicely brown and will pull easily off the bone (and stick in your teeth).
With a sharp knife, cut through the ribs and serve on a large platter. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions, coriander and roasted sesame seeds if you are still sober and motivated enough after being in the kitchen for the past 3 hours.
To make the best of the meat juices left in the pan, add some sliced onion and brown over a moderate heat. Deglaze the pan with a good solid glug of ordinary kitchen red (save the good stuff for later if it’s not already too late), throw in any g, g ,+c and zest leftovers and reduce to a dipping sauce consistency.
Strain and serve alongside the ribs. Red wine and ginger simmered together with a little soy sauce are a quick and easy Asian style sauce.
My green and gold friend had to concede that these were the best ribs that he’d ever tasted. The szcheuan peppercorns add an aromatic quality that works well with the other flavours.
The hoisin sauce is the base note that will pair well with a nice Central Otago pinot noir but an off-dry Gewrztraminer would also be spectacular with this dish. Toothpicks and finger bowls too if you’re really trying to impress.
Note from editor: I’ll try and make these in the next month or so and provide pictures. It sounds absolutely delicious.