CHINATOWN RIBS

Source: Adapted from Raichlen on Ribs (Workman Publishing, 2006)
Method: Indirect grilling/ smoking
Yield: Serves 4

For the marinade/ sauce:

1 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
3 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a cleaver
5 slices ginger (each 1/4-inch thick), peeled and crushed with the side of a cleaver
3 scallions, trimmed, white part brushed with the side of a cleaver, green part minced

2 racks of St. Louis-cut spare ribs or baby back ribs (4 to 5 pounds)

You'll also need: 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably cherry), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained

Make the marinade/sauce. Place the hoisin sauce, sugar and five spice powder in a non-reactive mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and scallions.

Remove the membrane from the backs of the ribs.

Place the ribs in a nonreactive baking dish just large enough to hold them. Pour 2/3 of the marinade over the ribs, turning to coat both sides, spreading the marinade all over the ribs with a rubber spatula. Reserve the remaining marinade for serving. Cover the ribs and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Note: the ribs can also be marinated in large resealable plastic bags.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Drain the ribs well and arrange on the grate, bone side down, over the drip pan away from the heat. Toss half the wood chips on each mound of coals. Cover the grill and cook the ribs until dark brown and very crisp on the outside, yet tender enough to pull apart with your fingers, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Replenish the coals as needed. When ribs are cooked, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/4 inch.

Meanwhile, transfer the reserved marinade to a saucepan and gently simmer for 3 minutes over medium heat. Let the resulting sauce cool to room temperature, then strain it into an attractive serving bowl.

Transfer the ribs to a large platter or cutting board, and cut the racks in half, widthwise (or into individual ribs). Brush or drizzle the ribs with some of the reserved marinade/sauce and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve at once.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort