Nothing screams for finger foods louder than SuperBowl Sunday. Am I right? This past weekend also probably was the most junk eating for everyone, even the health conscious, because you have to go to someone else’s party and eat what they serve. How can you not? Beer and chips are complimenting each other just right. I was so lucky that I didn’t have to go anywhere else for the event, so I was planning to make healthy snacks, but no, not that vegetable dip with hummus. It’s a little too healthy. I’m not a pure herbivore just yet.
Satay was my choice, but I was not going to spend my precious time putting the meat on the skewers. So I decided to go for ribs. The pigs had already spent the time wrapping their meat around their rib bones, and that serves as a holder. I shouldn’t ignore their labor. Also with ribs I can make them tender and fall of the bones and that makes the satay even more yummy.
Satay or pronounced “Sa-Te” originated from Indonesia. There the most varieties are found, with all kind of meats on skewers, including fish, venison, rabbit, turtles, eels and even snakes! The Thais only use pork, chicken, tofu and, when I grew up there was some beef satay selling on the street side together with pork, but it is rarely found these days. The most popular one is pork.
This recipe is based on Thai Satay that is served with pickled cucumbers and peanut sauce as dips. I also added a simplified recipe at the end, just in case you can’t find the ingredients or don’t want to take the time to prep. Skip to Easy Spare Ribs Satay recipe all the way at the bottom of the page if you want the abridged version. My recipe is a family recipe and might be slightly different than others. I use garlic and shallots and do not add coriander seeds.
Spare ribs 3.5 lb.
Lemongrass sliced ¼ cup
Fresh Turmeric root sliced ¼ cup
Shallot sliced ¼ cup
Galangal root sliced ¼ cup
Garlic sliced 2 tablespoons
Sea salt 2 teaspoons
Brown sugar 2 teaspoons (set aside 1 teaspoon)
Coconut milk 2 cups (set aside 1 cup)
Spare ribs: I used St.Louis ribs because even though I want this to be healthy I also need some fat to add flavor and moisture to the meat. You can use baby back ribs if you want a leaner piece. In that case use only 3 lb. because baby back ribs are lighter with less bone weight, and reduce the cooking time to about 80%.
Lemongrass: The green stalks on the right in the picture. This shouldn’t be that hard to find at an Asian market but if you have a hard time finding them try templeofthai.com or Amazon. You should slice from the bottom white part up to about half way, or 6”.
Turmeric root: The bottom middle photo between lemongrass and shallots. You can use the powder if you can’t find one. 2 tablespoon should be plenty to substitute for fresh. If you can get the fresh one, peel the skin off and slice them thinly.
Galangal root: The top middle photo between garlic and lemongrass. This is also sold at Asian markets fresh or frozen. Also available online. Peel of the skin and slice them thinly.
Coconut milk: This is something I use from the can since it’s not that easy to find shredded fresh coconut to milk the coconut milk from, but make sure it is the “milk” and not the “juice”. The white thick cream-like liquid, not the clear water-like liquid, please.
1) Clean the ribs: remove all the membrane on one side of the ribs so the marinade can penetrate through easier and cook better. I kept them all attached as a rack just to save space but you can cut them apart. They marinade better that way.
2) Mix the marinade: I put everything in the blender with 1 cup of coconut milk and grind them at medium for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to high and continue to blend for another 2 minutes. Make sure that everything is in fine paste.
You can also use the tradition equipment, i.e., mortar and grinder. If you decide to do that, this is the order that you put ingredients in the mortar and grind them until fine before you add the next one: lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, shallots. After grinding the shallots there will be some liquid coming out, so add curry powder to help absorb it, (and so you won’t get splashed in the face!) Then continue with garlic, sea salt and brown sugar. Once you get the paste ground really fine, dissolve the paste in 1 cup coconut milk.
3) Marinate the ribs: This should happen the night before the cooking day. Rub the marinade paste on every side of the ribs and let them soak the colorful aroma of the paste in peace in the refrigerator. Or, if your outside temperature is around 33˚-36˚ F and your raccoon, dog, cat and coyote neighbors are on vacation, you can put your ribs outside.
If you can’t marinate the ribs overnight, shame on you, but you can marinate them for 2-3 hours. All I’m asking is just do not tell your guests that you got the recipe from me.
4) Bake the ribs: Wrap each rack of ribs in aluminum foil, tightly so the ribs soak in their own juice the whole time we bake them.
If already cut the ribs apart, place them in a baking tray, only one layer, and cover the tray tightly with foil. Bake at 300˚F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. While you are waiting for the ribs to be cooked, make the dipping sauces. Go to Method #7
5) Make the braising: Unwrap the ribs and check to see if the meat is tender and nearly falling off the bones.
Collect all the juice, put it into a pot, set the pot over the stove, boil until the juice is thickened, then turn off the stove and add the 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar that we set aside.
6) Grill the ribs: There are 2 ways of grilling the ribs and both ways need braising. So apply plenty of the braising on the ribs.
– Grill on the grill: If you want to cook them over the grill, I suggest keeping the whole rack of ribs together. Grill them over high heat, keep turning the rack every minute and apply more braising on the top before and after you turn them.
– Broil in the oven: If you want to broil them, then cut them apart and apply plenty of braising on top, put the tray on the top rack and set the oven to hi-broil. Usually it takes less than 5 minutes to brown them. I turned mine only 2 times. Put the outside side (the curved-up side) up first and leave it for 1-2 minutes, then put the inside side (the concave side that use to be covered with the white membrane) up with more braising. Leave it for 1-2 minutes. Turn them again once more and apply more braising, broil for 30 seconds or one minute…Then you are done.
Do not let them burn!
This dipping is officially called “A-Jad” in Thai.
4 Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
1 medium shallot sliced thinly
1 red chili sliced diagonally
– Place them in the bowl together.
Rice wine vinegar ½ cup
Rice cooking wine ½ cup (You can substitute with white wine, Japanese sake or water.)
Brown or white granulated sugar ½ cup
Water ½ cup
Sea salt 1-½ teaspoons
– Boil them all together in a pot over the stove until all the alcohol evaporates. Let it cool down, then pour it over the vegetables, then put the bowl in the refrigerator.
Do not make this ahead of the time. A-Jad is best if you use it within 2-3 hours after you make it. If you have to let it sit a little longer, add more water to the sauce.
Kaeng Kua curry paste 1 teaspoon
If you can’t find it or don’t know it, red curry paste is ok to use as a substitute, but these 2 curry pastes are different. I explained more here while I write about the curry pastes.
Coconut milk 1-½ cups
Crushed roasted peanuts ½ cup (Can be substituted with crunchy peanut butter)
Coconut palm sugar 2 tablespoons
Fish sauce 2 tablespoons
Tamarind pulp 1 tablespoons
– Put ¼ cup of coconut milk in a pot over medium high heat wait until it bubbles, then add curry paste, stirring constantly with a whisk for 2 minutes. If the edge starts to brown, add more coconut milk.
– Put the rest of the ingredients in the pot except the crushed peanuts. Stir constantly with the whisk until it bubbles again, the add the crushed peanuts.
– Adjust the seasoning by adding more fish sauce, sugar, tamarind or even more crushed peanuts to your taste.
Not everyone wants to spend so much time cooking. Here this is the abridged version of the recipe.
Spare Ribs 2 lb.
Lobo Satay seasoning mix 1 package
If you get the seasoning mix that comes with the peanut dipping sauce mix
take the package of the satay rub out and leave the other one. If you get the white envelope seasoning mix, that is only the marinade, no dipping sauce.
Mix the seasoning with a cup of coconut milk and follow the methods from #1 all the way to the end but skip #2. If you get the seasoning mix with the peanut sauce mix, you can follow the recipe on the back about how to make the peanut dipping sauce using pre-mixed.