Truth be told, Michael and I didn’t start our 16 year marriage with a passion for preparing super tasty meals. Partly because we both worked crazy long hours tied together with a mind numbing commute. Our dinner choices came from the center aisles of the grocery store. Not exactly healthy or great tasting, but it’s what we thought we had time for. Our waistline eventually caught up with that logic and we made some serious culinary changes.
At the time, I had more kitchen experience than Michael. Leaving him with dinner preparations sometimes ended up with boxed mac and cheese served with a side of canned tuna.
Thank goodness for the Food Network and the countless grilling shows that started to flood the airways. Michael became very interested in becoming a grill master. His research and desire to learn how to grill helped him in the kitchen too. Together, we make some fabulous food. We know we hit a home run when we can talk about how much we could sell a particular dish in “our restaurant.”
For instance, these most delicious Asian BBQ Baby Back Ribs.
When it comes to grilling, we are all about charcoal. Michael owns two types of grills, a good old Weber and a Red Head Charcoal Water Smoker or what we lovingly call R2D2. Michael can do some serious magic on the Weber. He smokes our Thanksgiving turkey every year on that thing. The R2D2, is not of great quality, but our smoked meats are amazing.
PREPARATION TIP: If you don’t have a charcoal grill, that’s ok. Turn on your oven or gas grill to 225-250 degrees. The process will still be similar. If you stick them in your oven, place the ribs on a broiler pan.
Let’s get to the real reason you are here, ASIAN BBQ BABY BACK RIBS:
2 racks of Baby Back Ribs*
1 cup of soy sauce
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, grated
1 cinnamon stick
Splash of pineapple juice (orange juice works here too)
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of water
Hoisin sauce, for basting
*You can use baby back or spare ribs, the process is still the same. Some people prefer to remove the silver skin from the back of the ribs. It’s a tough process. If you feel you want to try and remove the skin, check YouTube, there are lots of video. We left the skin on and it just melted away during the slow cooking process.
In a small saucepan, bring to a boil; soy sauce, sugars, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, pineapple juice and black pepper. Stir to ensure all the sugar has dissolved. Remove the sauce from the heat and let the sauce cool.
Your grill and your marinating container will determine how big to keep your racks of ribs. To save space in the refrigerator and to fit the ribs onto R2D2, we cut each rack into 2 pieces.
Once the sauce has cooled, take out the cinnamon stick and add 1/2 cup of water. Give it a good stir and marinate your ribs for at least 4 hours up to 12 hours in a tightly sealed container. Occasionally, move the marinade around to ensure all the meat gets a good soak in the salty goodness.
You will need to plan for an estimated 3-4 hours of cooking at a low temperature. You want the collagen in the ribs to breakdown to allow the meat to come right off the bone.
About 1/2 hour before you start to cook the ribs, fill up the bottom of your grill with unlit charcoal. My husband likes to use a chimney to light a few briquettes and dump on top of the unlit coals in the bottom of the grill. Our chimney looks like it has seen better days.
The ideal temperature for cooking the ribs is 225-250 degrees. You can control the temperature by moving the damper. The more the damper is closed, the lower the temperature. Simple science really, just like humans, fire needs oxygen to breath. More oxygen, the hotter the fire or the more energized human.
Before you place the ribs on the grill, rinse the ribs with cool water and pat dry with a paper towel.
PREPARATION TIP: At this point, bring the leftover marinade up to a boil. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch in a touch of cold water and whisk into the sauce. Once thickened, remove from heat. This can be used in place of the hoisin at the time of basting.
Once you reach the ideal temperature, place the ribs on the grill bone side down. Then just wait. Monitor the temperature and if the temperature drops, open the damper.
When the rib meat shrinks off the bone about a 1/4-1/2 inch, it’s time to start basting. Open up the hoisin sauce and pour some in a separate container. Using a basting brush, paint the ribs. Cover the ribs back up for another 10-15 minutes. Watch for burning. Hoisin has sugar in it and sugars burn. Apply as many as 3 coats of hoisin sauce every 10-15 minutes during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
Remove the ribs and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. DIG IN!