I won’t lie, these ribs take a lot of ingredients and a lot of work. Worth it, but still. If you’re not up for it, at least try this Asian salsa - it’s easy, bursting with flavor, and I’m putting it on everything.
1 bunch scallions (8 or 9), halved
1 large carrot, sliced into k-inch-
1 large yellow onion, quartered
½ cup dry mushrooms
1/4 cup dried chilies
5 garlic cloves, smashed
2 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ cup Shaoxing or white wine
1/2 cup black vinegar
½ cup black tea (I used the Mercury’s Dutch House Blend)
4 pounds babyback ribs
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup raw white rice
1 inch knob ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cups Chicken Stock
4 whole star anise
¼ cup Sichuan peppercorns
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
In a large braising dish or Dutch oven, combine the scallions, carrots, onion, dried mushrooms, dried chilies, garlic, ginger, anise, bay leaves, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, and cloves and mix together on the bottom of the dish.
Place the ribs directly on top of the vegetables and pour the stock, soy sauce, Shaoxing, and vinegar over the whole thing. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil or a lid.
Place on the stove over high heat for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and move the braising dish to the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool. The ribs should be almost falling off the bone.
To smoke the ribs. fit a sheet of foil, then a rack inside a pan. Add the black tea leaves. sugar. and white rice and give it a stir. Place a wire rack on top. making sure it is tall enough so that it is not touching the tea or the rice. Place the ribs on the rack. cover the whole dish tightly with aluminum foil (or, the lid. if using a Dutch oven). place the dish over high heat. and immediately start a timer for 12 minutes. After about 5 minutes. you should start to see the ribs smoke.(Please open the windows!) After the first whiff of smoke, turnoff the heat and remove the dish from the stove.
When the timer goes off. carefully remove the foil or the lid. The ribs can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Turn the oven temperature up to 400°F. In a small skillet. toast the Sichuan peppercorns over medium- low heat until they start to become fragrant and floral and pop a bit. 4 to 6 minutes. Use a spice grinder. coffee grinder. or mortar and pestle to grind them to a powder. Cut the ribs into 2 or 3 sections and place them on a baking sheet. Mix together the Sichuan peppercorns and brown sugar in a small bowl and spread evenly on top of the ribs.
Pour a few tablespoons of water on top of each 5-bonc section directly onto the sugar-pepper mix to moisten. Place In the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. until the sugar-pepper mix has melted and the ribs are piping hot. Remove from the oven and place on a large platter and serve with the kimchi sesame salsa below.
Makes about l cup
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
(about 1/2 bunch)
3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced (about ½ cup)
3 tablespoons chopped kimchi
1 tablespoon plus I teaspoon white sesame seeds
I tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 medium shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chill oil
Juice of 1 lime
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients until well combined.
Spoon it over the ribs, a steak, chips, rice, Bao buns or just your finger.