Hoisin-Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Makes 4 servings
These addictive pork ribs balance sweet and heat. (We prefer baby back ribs over spare ribs.) A thick paste made with aromatics, honey, and some staple ingredients acts as both a marinade and a base for the glaze. The recipe calls for gochujang, a Korean chili paste available in Asian markets, well-stocked supermarkets, and online. For best flavor, marinate the ribs for at least 8 hours.
You’ll need two 18-by-36-inch sheets or extra-wide, heavy-duty foil.
When wrapping each rack of ribs in foil, make sure the meaty side faces down. Be sure to position the ribs this way on the wire rack, too, as this lets the meat braise in the pork juices that collect in the foil.
2 cups packed cilantro leaves and stems
4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup hoisin sauce
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon five spice powder
5 tablespoons gochujang, divided
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 3- to 3½-pound racks of baby back pork ribs
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 scallions, minced
In a food processor, combine the cilantro, ginger, garlic, hoisin, soy sauce, honey, five-spice, and 2 tablespoons of the gochujang. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Remove 1 cup and set aside as a marinade. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons gochujang and the lime juice to the remaining mixture in the food processor and process until well combined. Transfer to a small bowl or glass measuring cup (you should have about 2 cups), cover and refrigerate for use as a glaze.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of plastic wrap. Set the ribs on it, pour ½ cup of the marinade over each set, then use your hands to rub it into both sides. Wrap the plastic wrap around the ribs and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Lay an 18-by-36-inch sheet of heavy-duty foil on the counter. Unwrap 1 set of ribs and set in the center of and parallel with the foil. Fold the short ends up and over the meat, then the two long sides. Repeat with a second sheet of foil and the remaining ribs.
Set the wrapped ribs, foil seams up, on the prepared wire rack. Bake until a mating knife inserted between 2 rib bones meets little resistance, 2¼ to 2½ hours. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and increase the temperature to 450 degrees.
Carefully unwrap the ribs, reserving the accumulated juices. Place the unwrapped ribs, meaty side up, back on the rack. Pour the juices into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a spoon, skim and discard any fat from the juices; you should have about 1½ cups of fatted juices. Pour the juices into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to about ¼ cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the reserved 2 cups hoisin mixture and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 1¾ cup, about 8 minutes.
Generously brush the meaty side of the ribs with glaze and continue to bake, brushing every 8 to 9 minutes, until the glaze is darkened and charred in spots, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and evenly sprinkle the meaty side of each rack with half of the sesame seeds. Let rest for 30 minutes. Slice into individual ribs, then sprinkle with scallions. Serve with the remaining glaze.
Singaporean Chicken Satay
Makes 4 servings
In Singapore, satay is grilled quickly over long beds of hot coals. It is flipped frequently to ensure even cooking and plenty of delicious charred bits at the edges. The skewers—whether chicken, pork, or lamb—typically are served with a thin vinegar-based peanut sauce for dipping. To re-create chicken satay at home, we marinate and skewer thighs, then cook them on a charcoal or gas grill. Our soy-vinegar dipping sauce includes a scant amount of peanut butter as well as chopped roasted peanuts.
The chicken should marinate for a maximum of 3 hours, or it will be too salty. And don’t be shy about getting a deep char on the chicken; the crisp, dark bits add to the texture and flavor.
For the chicken:
¼ cup white sugar
6 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
3 tablespoons toasted peanut oil
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips
Grape-seed or other neutral oil, for the grill grate
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons toasted peanut oil
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup finely chopped salted, roasted peanuts
To prepare the chicken, in a large bowl, combine ½ cup water, the sugar, garlic, peanut oil, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and 1 tablespoon salt. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, then stir in the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 hours.
To make the sauce, in a small bowl, whisk ¼ cup boiling water and the peanut butter. Whisk in the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar; set aside. In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the peanut oil, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chili-garlic sauce and turmeric, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk the garlic mixture into the soy mixture; spare ¼ cup in a small bowl for basting. Cover and refrigerate the remainder.
About 30 minutes before skewering and cooking the chicken, remove the sauce from the refrigerator. Stir in the chopped peanuts.
Drain the chicken in a colander. Thread 2 or 3 pieces of chicken onto each of eight 8-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and pushing the pieces together, but not tightly packing them.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 minutes, then clean and oil the grate. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and heat, covered, for 15 minutes, then clean and oil the grate; turn the primary burner to medium-high and turn off the remaining burner(s).
Place the skewers on the hot side of the grill. Cook uncovered until well-charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip the skewers, then brush with about half of the reserved basting sauce. Continue to cook until well-charred on the second sides, another 3 to 4 minutes. Flip again and move to the cool side of the grill. Brush with the remaining reserved sauce, cover, and cook until the thickest piece of chicken is opaque when cut into, another 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Stir the refrigerated sauce to recombine and serve with the satay.
Quick Cucumber-Scallion Kimchi
Makes 4 to 6 servings
While many types of Korean kimchi require slow fermentation, this cucumber and scallion version can be eaten the same day it’s made. A splash of fish sauce adds depth and umami and is balanced by an equal amount of rice vinegar, which keeps the flavor fresh and bright and adds a hint of sweetness.
Korean red pepper flakes, called gochugaru, are seedless, deep-red in color, and fragrant. Look for them in Asian markets or well-stocked supermarkets; if not available, red pepper flakes are a decent stand-in, but since they’re more aggressive in spiciness, use a little less.
Regular or English cucumbers won’t work in this recipe. Small Persian or pickling (also called Kirby) cucumbers contain fewer seeds, are less watery, and have better texture for quick-pickling. Also, be sure to rinse, drain, and pat the cucumbers dry after salting.
The kimchi will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days; serve chilled or at room temperature.
2 pounds Persian cucumbers or pickling (Kirby) cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons gochugaru (see headnote) or ½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
1 bunch scallions, whites thinly sliced, green parts cut into 1-inch lengths
In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with 1 tablespoon salt until well combined, then let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the vinegar, fish sauce, gochugaru, and garlic; set aside.
Transfer the cucumbers to a colander, then rinse under running cool water and drain well. Pat the cucumbers dry, then add to the vinegar mixture along with the scallion whites and greens; toss until well combined. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving.
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to [email protected]