(NOTE: This experiment was slated to be the second use of my new gas barbecue and so was supposed to be as much about learning the characteristics of the equipment as it is the flavorings I was working with. Unfortunately, as you will see, things did not work out that way).
There are many different approaches to barbecuing ribs; pre-cooking or not, marinating or using a dry rub, saucing during cooking or not until afterward (to name a few issues), and many people will insist that one set method is the only proper way to do things. Naturally, this is nonsense but, at some point, I would very much like to do a systematic test of the various different techniques so as to compare and contrast the different results. For this experiment, however, I am adopting a very simple approach and will simply just do a straight forward grilling at moderate heat using side-ribs that have been given a long marinade using a spicy and tangy wet-rub…
- 1 rack of pork ribs;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Chili-Ginger-Garlic Paste;
- 1 tbsp. Lemon Juice;
- 1 tsp. Olive oil;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Sugar;
- 1 tbsp. minced Lemon Zest;
- 1 tsp. Salt;
- 5 or 6 Lemon Slices;
First mix all the ingredients except the ribs and lemon slices in a bowl, mashing well with the back of a fork to blend the flavors.
Now, use a sharp knife to score the ribs all over to allow the marinade to penetrate, pay special attention to the concave side and make multiple cuts through the membrane. Many recipes call for this to be removed entirely but I have never yet done this and don’t believe it to be especially desirable. Once you have done this, spread the wet-rub all over the ribs, making sure to include the edges, and massage the mix well into the meat. Place the ribs on a suitable platter or pan, place the lemon slices on top and then pop everything in the fridge to marinate overnight.
Well folks, I am unhappy to report that, after marinating the ribs I awoke the following morning to a very wet and windy day that looked set to be nasty indefinitely. I don’t mind a little wetness but the wind was too high to allow me to use the grill so, instead, I ended up baking the ribs in the oven.
To achieve the same sort of result as I would on the grill I slow-cooked the ribs at low temperature until they were tender and as nicely browned as possible. Had I been able to use the barbecue, I would have cooked the ribs on a part of the grill with low flame and kept the other burners at nearly full flame to keep the temperature inside the cover fairly hot. Then, just before the end I would have turned up the burner beneath the ribs for the final touch. It is a shame I couldn’t do that on this but, such is life…
I am still getting used to the characteristics of my new oven but 250 degrees seemed about right and I baked the ribs for about 2 hours, first with the concave side up, and then down. I half expected that a quick go under the broiler might be necessary for a bit of color but, as it turns out, this was not necessary…
Well… not a great success. I served the ribs with some noodles spiced up with just a smidgen of Galingale Curry Paste and some chopped scallions. I also added just a splash of chopped red chili paste for some color.
My wife’s take on the whole thing was : ‘Not your best’ and ‘It’s alright’. Hardly a ringing endorsement but, ultimately, I had to agree. Overall, the flavor was indecisive, bland and didn’t have any excitement at all. There was nothing wrong with it particularly… it just didn’t sing!
Having said that, however, it struck me that, although my wife and I weren’t crazy about the result, it still might appeal to others. Years ago, we were down in Florida and some hosts took us to a BBQ place that they apparently enjoyed very much. Everybody raved about the BBQ meat but my wife and I could only exchange glances and wonder what the heck was supposed to be so good about it, Basically it was boring and bland, as far as we were concerned and the result of this experiment, while maybe (and just maybe) tastier to others, was not much better than the Florida stuff to our minds… I’d say that all this dish needs is a little tweaking but, too be honest, I have to mark this down as one of my failures… It’s a shame, really; they were such nice ribs to begin with.