Friday, December 31, 2010

Mom's Braised Asian Ribs, and My 100th Post!

Mom's Braised Ribs

One of my pet peeves is calling a dish "Asian," but I didn't know how else to describe these ribs made with mirin, sake, and fish sauce.  After all, nothing gets labeled as European Salad Dressing or European Spice Rub.  I often call my family's dishes Chinese, Malaysian, or Singaporean, but this one is a mix of Japanese and Southeast Asian flavors.  Mom says she got the idea from some cooking show, probably one of the Taiwanese or Hong Kong shows she watches, and copied the general idea.  So while I was visiting in New York the week before Christmas, I showed her how to make carrot cake while she taught me this recipe.  She's cute -- I think she intends on doing a recipe swap every time I visit.  She says my dad adores these ribs, and after Joe tasted hers he was excited I was making them too.

One thing worth mentioning: In my hurry at the supermarket, I didn't realize I bought boneless country-style ribs.  This resulted in the fattier pieces becoming juicy and fall-apart tender, while the leaner pieces were a bit tough and dry-textured.  Buy spare ribs, not too lean, with bones in them.

Oh, and it's my 100th post!  Yay!

Braised Ribs
From top-left: The ribs are seared on each side; ginger and garlic are sauteed briefly; the ribs simmer in mirin, sake, water, fish sauce, and ketchup; they are braised until the meat is fall-apart tender.  Think ketchup is a strange ingredient?  The condiment originated in Asia, and some say ketchup comes from a Malaysian word.  The sauce is delicious, lightly infused with ginger and the other flavors, so pour it over.

Mom's Braised Ribs
3 lbs spare ribs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbs thinly sliced ginger
2 tbs thinly sliced garlic
2 tbs sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup sake
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs ketchup

Place the ribs in a bowl and cover with water and sprinkle in the baking soda to soak for a few minutes.  This helps tenderize the meat.

Over medium-low heat, slowly brown one the ribs, about 10 minutes.  Then turn the ribs and brown all sides.

Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the sugar over the ribs and put the lid on, letting the sugar melt in for 1-2 minutes.  Add the water, mirin, sake, fish sauce, and ketchup.  Bring the liquid to a simmer.

Cover and cook, turning halfway through, until the sauce has reduced to about ¼ cup and the meat is tender, about 2 hours.  If your ribs were very fatty, you could spoon the top layer off the sauce and discard.  Serve the ribs with the sauce spooned over.


  1. How easy can those be. Wonderful recipe.

  2. Love the flavour combination... it must be fabulous with the fall-apart ribs. Bookmarking this one so I can try it out soon!


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