Korean Spicy BBQ Ribs

Some of my best experiments have come from necessity.  We have a chest freezer in the basement and my boyfriend will bring something up and say, "I brought up a roast, let's do something with it this week."  I think, a pot roast would be great.  Later I go and pull the meat out and find out it's not a beef roast but a bag of country style ribs.  Ok, I was in the mood for something spicy anyway.  Do I do the same old dry rub that i always do?  I open the fridge looking for inspiration.  Hey, sometimes it actually works!  I see a brand new bottle of kim chee and realize my mouth really wants some korean flavors.  A few ingredients later and my Korean Spicy BBQ Ribs were born!

1/2 cup ko cho jang (Korean red pepper paste) see below
2-3T Sugar or Honey
1 1/2 T Mirin (Japanese sweet sake)
1 T Shoyu (Soy Sauce)
2 cloves garlic
1 piece Ginger, aprox 1 inch square
1/4 cup Green Onions, green part minced
1 1/2 tsp Sesame Oil

Mix the ko cho jang, sugar (or honey), mirin and shoyu in a bowl until well blended.  You can process the garlic and ginger any way you want.  Minced with a knife, grated through a fine grater or pulverized in a food processor.  Make sure you take the skin off the ginger if using any of those methods.  I like to use the garlic press.  Put the garlic through first, then the ginger.  You don't have to peel the ginger, just cut it into chunks that fit in your press and remove the skin from the press between pieces.  Ok I confess, I have my boyfriend or one of his sons do this for me.  I don't have the strength anymore to use the garlic press.  If they weren't around, I would probably resort to my microplane (like an extra fine grater)
Mix again until well combined and taste.  The measurements are guidelines there are no hard and fast rules.  If you like it a little sweeter by all means add more sweetener. Or more shoyu if you want it saltier.  It should have a subtle "bite" to it.  Add the sesame oil and stir again.

Now take some country style ribs, I use boneless but use what ever you want.  If they are really big you can cut them into smaller pieces.  I like them about 4"-6" long and not much more than 1 1/2 inches on the other  sides.  It's not a hard and fast rule, you can just leave them as is and watch the cooking time.  I pour about half to 3/4ths of the marinade over the ribs and using my hands, massage the paste in so that every piece of meat is well covered.  You can use the whole batch but I like to have some extra for other things (keep reading) so put the rest of the marinade in a clean container and refrigerate for later.  Add the minced green onions and mix again.  Let the meat marinate for at least 2 hours or even better, overnight in the fridge, stirring or flipping occasionally.  I like to take mine out about an hour before I want to start cooking them to let them come closer to room temperature.  Take out of the marinade and lay meat on a baking sheet.  Try to leave at least a little space between the pieces.  Bake at 375 degrees (F) for about 25 min.  Test for doneness with either a meat thermometer or by cutting into one of the thicker pieces.  I don't mind my pork just tinged with pink but they were completely done at this point for me so cook them to the doneness you prefer.  Take out and let stand for a few minutes.

Korean Spicy BBQ Ribs

You can serve this with rice and kim chee.  

I don't do much rice anymore so served this with both japanese soba noodles and shirataki noodles.  Soba noodles are made from buckwheat.  They are my go to pasta.  My favorite readily available brand takes only 3 min once the water boils.  Shirataki noodles are made from yam.  They have no calories, no fat, no carbs, nothing ( the tofu ones have like 5 cal a serving and negligible other stats).  They have always traditionally been served in things like japanese sukiyaki.  They don't have the texture of pasta.  They are more rubbery, but something I grew up with.  They almost remind me of my favorite traditional korean noodle, naeng myun.  I mix some of either with some of the reserved marinade (not the one you actually used on the pork, throw that one out).  Add some cilantro and/or green onions and serve either cold or at room temperature.

I also use the reserved marinade to spice up soups, everything from chicken noodle to ramen.  Just stir a spoonful in to taste.

The pork turned out so well that my boyfriend's son came in saying it was the second best ribs he's ever had.  the other ones are his uncles and evidently a 3 day process.  He came home after work and at the rest of the pan, like 4 or 5 big pieces AND he wants the recipe!  He usually eats so little so it made me happy he liked this so much.

In a couple  weeks we're going to try this on spareribs.  Can't wait!  I used the little bit of pork that was leftover to make bahn mi for dinner tonight too.  Awesome!  That's another blog though.

Note:  Ko cho jang (or Gochujang) is a red pepper and fermented soy bean paste similiar to miso but spicier.  It's thick and gooey.  It may also contain other things like wheat.  You can find it in a good oriental store either on the shelves or in the refrigerated section.  It comes in jars or plastic tubs.  Once opened, I refrigerate it and it keeps FOREVER.


FOOD.  What a simple word.  For some, food is merely fuel that sustains us.  For the rest of us, it means so much more.  Food can be a comfort, a connection, a learning experience, even a nemesis.  We eat when we are happy, we eat when we are sad.  We serve food at weddings and birthdays and also at funerals.  Sometimes, it's the first or only glimpse we have of a people a world away.  Eating is universal.  I met a man online who lives in the Philippines.  He asked me if I spoke Filipino.  I said, "Yes!  Food!  Adobo, pancit, pinacbet, bagoong, balut..."  A connection was instantly made and today he is one of my dearest friends.

I grew up in a family of foodies.  My parents grew up in Hawaii and we lived theref or a number of years.  With all the different cultures there, one becomes familiar with many Asian and Polynesian cuisines.  It is expected at any celebration, even one as american as Thanksgiving, to have dishes from Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, Hawaii, and many other countries served right alongside the turkey.  Even now, food is an essential part of family get-togethers.  While preparing and eating, we often are already discussing what to make the next time we meet.  My grandmother owned a restaurant, an okazu-ya, for as far back as I can remember her.  My sister owns a Japanese restaurant in Northern California and another sister works for one of the top chefs in Honolulu.

Food is a way of sharing and reconnecting.  A single bite of something can take you back to your childhood, a vacation, or another special moment in your life.  It can bring back vivid memories of someone long gone and make them part of your current celebration.  Food nourishes body and soul.

My daughter lives in Canada with her husband and his family.  It's been nearly 20 months since I've seen her.  I miss her very much.  We are not great letter writers or emailers for that matter.  For us, email is more a way of passing on information than communication.  Recently, we've reconnected through Skype.  The two of us "talk" for hours about anything and everything.  We use text instead of voice most of the time.  It gives us a chance to be candid and to whine about the low points of our day.  Inevitably, the topic turns to food.  We discuss new products we found or new recipes or techniques we've tried or just what we ate that day.

I've been in a writing mood lately and thought, "Hey what if we did a food blog together?"  It's something we can work on as a team, it will help keep us in touch and it gives me an opportunity to see the great dishes that she and her hubby make.  It also gives her a good reason to use her new camera.  She agreed and so starts our journey through the umami of life.

The links are a couple of my favorite cookbooks

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