Our ribs were a perfect combination of four "S"s, sticky, sweet, salty and smokey. The Szechuan pepper adds a slight citrus note. They are not fishy tasting at all. No one at dinner could stop raving about them.
There were about four ribs left after dinner. Matt cut the meat from the bones and made a wonderful pork fried rice.
Asian Smoked Spare Ribs
2 T finely ground Szechuan pepper
2 T brown sugar
1 T kosher salt
5 lbs spare ribs, silver skin removed (5 lbs seems like a lot but much of that weight is bone.)
4oz dark brown sugar
1/2 c water
1 T tomato paste
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/4 c fish sauce
Mix the rub together. Rub the ribs with it on both sides. Place on a smoker at about 225 F. Let cook for about 5 - 8 hours. Ok, I know that is a big difference. They will be cooked through earlier than this, but you want the fat to melt and the meat to get super tender. So, you are cooking them until they are as tender as you want.
While the ribs are smoking, make the glaze. Put the sugar, water, tomato paste and cayenne in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar melts. Add the fish sauce. Let simmer for 2 - 3 minutes, you are not trying to reduce or thicken it much.
When you gave about 1/2 hour of cooking left brush the glaze on one side of the ribs. Let cook for 15 minutes. Turn over and glaze the other side. Cook for 15 more minutes. (We had thunderstorms roll in so we actually did this last bit in a warm oven.)
Can you do this without a smoker? Yes, you can especially on a charcoal grill. Keep the temperature low and the ribs over indirect heat. On a gas grill it is a little harder to keep the low heat and get the tenderest ribs. Add a Smoker Box to the grill to get the smokey flavor.
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