Thai Style Spare Ribs

I recently waxed poetic about competition spares in an “Ode To Bones”. Those sweet, sticky ribs are fantastic, but I cook them 40+ times a year. It’s time to get outside of my BBQ box and do something a little different. It’s time to take my Gateway Drum to Southeast Asia and go Thai style.

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I cook 6 racks for each competition, but I will often buy 8-10. That leaves plenty of extra bones lying around for experiments. Thai cuisine has an all purpose seasoning paste that they use on just about everything (kind of like an Asian Guns Hot). It’s called gleua kratiem prik thai which pretty much means salt, pepper, garlic and it’s delicious, simple to make and, as fortune would have it, works really well with food cooked on a can.

As a disclaimer, I’m not Thai and I’ve never been to Thailand. If anyone can mutate a dish that has the damn ingredients in the title it’s me, so understand this is a Basted interpretation. Don’t take your new found prik thai knowledge down to the Lotus of Siam and piss of the chef. That being said, here’s what you need.

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 8-10 cilantro roots (or use a few stems which are easier to get)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • Healthy pinch of Accent (optional)
  • St. Louis cut spare ribs cut down to 10 bones for hanging

You can always cheat and use a spice grinder or blender, but there is something primal about mashing your own spices into a delectable medley of peppery, garlic goodness using a mortar and pestle. Either way, work the salt, peppercorns, garlic and cilantro into a rough paste.

The soy sauce/fish sauce ratio is up to you. I love fish sauce so I go more like 5-1, however, fish sauce is pungent and can be an acquired taste so use as much, or as little as you want. Just make sure it all adds up to 6 tablespoons of liquid and mix it into the paste. Stir in the brown sugar, green onions and the Accent, if desired, and you are ready to marinate!

Give the spares a good coating and let the marinade work it’s magic for 1-2 hours flipping them around every 15 minutes or so.

In the meantime, fire up your Gateway and bring it to a cruising temperature of 275 or so. We aren’t going to wrap these things in foil so we want to cook them slow at first before we ramp up the fire to finish them up. When your drum is up to temp, hook your ribs under the first bone on the big side and hang them in your drum. Leave as much of the marinade on the ribs as possible. These chunks of onion and garlic will caramelize and add flavor to our finished ribs.

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We are shooting for a total cook time of 2 1/2 hours. Spin the rack every 20-30 minutes to avoid burning the bottom bones and to get an even cook. After 2 hours have gone by, ramp up the temperature to get a nice fat sizzle on the outside of the ribs. You want a nice color, but use common sense and don’t char them up.Obviously, if one falls in the fire they are done!

Take them inside, slice and serve. These ribs are best enjoyed immediately hot of the hanger. They will have a little more tug than your standard comp rib because we didn’t wrap, but the tradeoff is that we aren’t going to wash off that amazing flavor. Serve them with a quick sauce made of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, dried red chilies, green onions, and cilantro.

Give these a try and get outside your  BBQ box. Trust me, these will be some of the best spares you have ever had!

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