Pork lovers will agree when I say that sticky pork ribs is a dish that puts the best of the best dishes out there to shame. And, this is a dish that absolutely needs you to leave your manners ‘off’ the table. You need to put away your knives and forks and dig in with your fingers with the juicy, sweet and sour sauce dribbling down. Trust me when I say that my immensely chewy, sticky, sweet and sour recipe satiates every urge or craving that you may have.
The spicy sauce is a heady mixture of continental and oriental spices. It is aromatic and mouth wateringly scrumptious. This is a dish that takes you back to how meat should be consumed – on the bone. The recipe may be a new creation but, the technique of roasting and cooking meat over the bone definitely is pretty old.
The original recipe for this is by Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsey. I have just added a few tweaks to suit my spicier palate. But, no, this is not a spicy recipe. There is chilli in it but it is counteracted by the honey and brown sugar. So, the result is literally such a succulent piece of meat that it makes you crave more.
PORK STICKY RIBS
- 1 kg of pork spare ribs, separated (you can cleave them into halves also)
- 1 tablespoon Refined or olive oil for browning the ribs
- salt and black pepper (as per taste)
- 4-6 cloves of garlic (plump and juicy), peeled and sliced
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
- 3 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 4-5 cloves
- 3 whole star anise
- 4 tablespoon of runny honey (if you are working with thick honey then just add a spoonful of warm water to dilute the consistency)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon of tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
- 150 ml soy sauce
- 3 table spoon of rice vinegar
- 250 ml of dark rum (plain and not spiced)
- 2 large spring onions sliced thinly + their green stalks chopped thin for garnish.
- 200 ml chicken stock
Note – if you do not have chicken stock then just add 200 ml of hot water to the pan in which you brown the ribs and use that. That works just as well.
- Preheat the oven to 180 deg C
- Wash and pat the ribs dry. Season them with salt and pepper by massaging both into the meat with your finger.
- Heat a cast iron pan on the stove. (I prefer a cast iron pan to roast the meat because it gives even colour and faster results. You can use a non-stick pan as well. The trick to this recipe is in browning the meat to seal in all the flavours.) Once the pan is hot, add the oil and then one by one lay down the pieces of the ribs and brown them. Turn them over frequently because we need to ensure that the meat is evenly browned. This should take you about 10-15 minutes.
- Now, for the next step, you can opt to use the above pan or else take a fresh heavy bottomed pan and heat it. To the pan, add the browned pork ribs, garlic, ginger, red chilli flakes, peppercorns, cloves, star anise, brown sugar and Sichuan peppercorns. Dribble over the honey mix well. Heat on a medium flame for 2-4 minutes or till the honey starts to caramelize.
- In a separate bowl measure out and add the soy sauce, tomato ketchup, rice wine vinegar and rum. Stir it and mix well and then pour this over the caramelized ribs.
- Simmer the above on high heat for about 5 minutes. Taste and season as per need. At this point you can choose to add more chilli or vinegar. It totally depends on your personal preference.
- Add the sliced spring onion, the chicken stock and bring the whole thing to a nice bubbling boil for about 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken a little.
- Transfer the above contents into a baking dish and cook in the oven at 180 deg C for an hour. Midway, at the half hour mark, turn over the ribs for an even cooking.
- Once done, remove the baking dish from the oven. Pick out any large pieces of the spices and discard them. Pick out the ribs and lay them in a serving dish or plate.
- Retain the juicy sauce and put that back on the stove on a pan. Stir it frequently and allow it to thicken more on a low to medium low flame. This should take you about 5-10 minutes.
- Once the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency (syrupy), ladle it over the ribs.
- Garnish with spring onions.
- Dig in!