When most Americans hear “pork ribs,” they imagine either the sauce-slathered, falling-off-the-bone version that’s the centerpiece of so many backyard barbecues or those you’d demolish at some great dive in Memphis, the meat coming away with a gentle tug from teeth. These ribs, the kind you’d find at booze-heavy, grill-focused Thai establishments, are decidedly different. Cut across the bone into pieces just a few inches long and marinated in a Chinese-influenced mixture of whiskey, honey, and ginger, they’re grilled over charcoal until they’re just tender—not spoon-tender, not falling-off-the-bone tender. Or to put it less generously, as some do, they’re too chewy. These ribs, to be clear, are not chewy. They just don’t disintegrate when your teeth hit them. This recipe is excerpted from Pok Pok. Read our review.
Sii Khrong Muu Yaang (Thai-Style Pork Ribs)
- 6 Tbs. honey
- 2 Tbs. Thai thin soy sauce
- 2 Tbs. Shaoxing wine
- 1 Tbs. finely grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil (look for brands that are 100 percent sesame oil)
- 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1/8 tsp. ground Ceylon or Mexican cinnamon
- Pinch grated nutmeg
- 2 lb. pork spareribs, cut lengthwise across the bone into 2-inch-wide racks by your butcher (most Asian butchers sell them already cut)
- 2 Tbs. hot water
Marinate the ribs
- Whisk 2 Tbs. of the honey with the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, sesame oil, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl until the honey has dissolved. Put the ribs in a large resealable bag, pour in the marinade, force out the air, and seal the bag. Put the bag in the fridge to marinate, turning the bag over occasionally, for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.
Cook the ribs
- In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 4 Tbs. of honey with the hot water until the honey has dissolved. You’ll brush the ribs with this mixture when they’re almost finished cooking.
- To cook the ribs on the grill (highly recommended): Prepare a charcoal grill to cook at 200°F to 250°F. If your grill doesn’t have a firebox, which allows for easy indirect cooking, push the coals to one side of the grill and form them into a mound. Add the ribs, meat side up, to the area of the grill rack opposite the charcoal. Rotate the grill top if possible so the vents are directly over the ribs, open the vents, and cover the grill. Positioning the open vents above the ribs will pull the charcoal smoke toward them, giving the ribs an especially smoky flavor.
- Cook the ribs, flipping the racks over occasionally and rotating them 180 degrees when you do, until they’re a mahogany color with crisp, slightly charred edges, 2 to 2-1/4 hours, adding more charcoal as necessary to maintain the temperature. (Pinch a piece off the corner. The meat should be tender with a slight pleasant chewiness, not falling off the bone.) Thirty minutes or so before they’re done, begin brushing the ribs with the honey mixture every 10 minutes or so.
- To cook the ribs in the oven: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Put the ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between the two racks. Bake for 2 hours, turning the rib racks over and rotating the baking sheet once or twice. Increase the heat to 300°F. Brush the ribs with some of the honey mixture and continue baking, brushing them every 10 minutes or so, until the ribs have a lacquered, mahogany surface and the meat is tender with a pleasant chewiness, not falling off the bone, 30 minutes to 1 hour more.
- Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, let them rest for a few minutes, then slice them into individual ribs and serve.