Have your butcher cut a slab or two (depending on how many people you’re feeding) into several 1″ wide lengthwise slices so that you can cut them apart and have 1″ x 1″ (approx) riblets. But don’t cut them apart just yet!
First you need to season them with a dry rub made of:
- kosher salt (not too much, as the sauce itself is quite salty)
- freshly ground black pepper
- ginger powder
- garlic powder
Rub this liberally on the ribs and then grill over medium high heat until the outside is nice and well done with bits of lovely charring, but the inside is still raw-ish. All you’re doing here is giving the ribs flavour, not cooking them (like browning a roast in a skillet before you roast it in the oven).
At this point you want to cut the ribs into nice little bite-sized pieces – which would be impossible if we hadn’t had the butcher slice through the bones for us. Like I said, you want to have pieces of about 1″x1″ or so – smaller is ok too.
Place all the cut up riblets into a large, very deep roasting pan and add this sauce:
- 1/2 C water
- 1/2 C dark brown sugar
- 1/4 C ketchup
- 1/4 C white or rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 C low-sodium Japanese soya sauce – Kikkoman works well here
- 2 T corn starch
For 4-5 lbs of ribs you’ll need a quadruple batch of the sauce, or so. You want just enough so that the sauce doesn’t quite cover the ribs. You can make less sauce than you think you will need and then add one more batch if you really need more. Whisk all ingredients together and pour over the ribs.
Bake in a 350°F oven for approximately 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes and removing the lid for the last half hour. Essentially you want to bake it until the connective tissues break down and the meat is very tender and coming off the bone, but not totally falling apart. I usually just take the lid off whilst I’m making the rice after having baked for 2 hrs, and once the rice is done, so are the ribs.
Serve over steamed brown or white rice and with any veggie. I like steamed broccoli or garlic sautéed long beans. What this turns out to be is basically umami meat crack. It’s severely addicting.
Vegetarians might make something similar with firm tofu or even tempeh and this sauce, though of course you couldn’t bake it as long else it would fall apart.