These ribs are first rubbed with a combination of ground aji panca chile, maple sugar & smoked salt then roasted until almost done. Next they are coated with a glaze flavored with more maple sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, aji panca chili & surprisingly, vanilla. The glaze bakes on to create a sticky, finger-licking coating with gorgeous color.
Tasty, tasty, tasty, if we do say so ourselves. The aji panca chilies give a mild heat (I was a little worried they'd be too spicy when I tasted the rub) that plays beautifully against the sweet maple sugar & molasses. Maple sugar has this mellow, natural sweetness which works so well with pork & really shines through in this dish. The vanilla gives a subtle, unexpected note to the Asian-inspired glaze. It isn't like you'd instantly say "oh, there is vanilla in this," but more like there is a pleasant vanilla flavor & scent lingering as a background note. Plus, for ribs cooked in the oven for only an hour they were more tender than expected. They almost make me not miss being able to barbecue ribs outside (ok, we could barbecue outside but it's in the teens & we're wimps).
Sweet & Spicy Spare Ribs
1 Dried Aji Panca Chile
4 T Maple Sugar
1 t Smoked Sea Salt
1 3/4 - 2 lbs spare ribs
2 T water
1/2 Bourbon Vanilla Bean
1 1/2 T soy sauce
2 T tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t fresh ginger, peeled & minced
1 T rice vinegar
1 T molasses
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grind the chile, seeds & all, in a coffee or spice grinder until about the texture of freshly ground black pepper. Reserve 1 teaspoon for the glaze. Mix the remaining ground chili with 1 tablespoon of the maple sugar & the smoked salt.
Remove the skin from the back of the ribs then cut them apart. Rub the ribs all over with the chile mixture.
Put the ribs in the oven & roast for 50 minutes.
Meanwhile make the glaze. Put the remaining 3 tablespoons of maple sugar & water in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half & scrap the seeds into the pan. Add the pod as well. Bring to a boil. Stir while boiling for about a minute until the sauce smells like caramel & is slightly thickened. Remove the vanilla pod. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the soy sauce, tomato paste, garlic, ginger, vinegar, molasses & reserved teaspoon of ground chile. Heat while stirring for a minute or two to blend the flavors. Set aside.
After the ribs have roasted for 50 minutes, brush them with the glaze. Roast another 10 minutes.
Makes 2 servings.
For a quick side dish I stir-fried a sliced red pepper & 3 heads of baby bok choy in 2 tablespoon soy sauce & 1 teaspoon maple sugar. It made for a colorful fresh dish with flavors that complimented the entrée perfectly.
Hope you all like our entry & will consider voting for us next week!
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