Tamarind-Glazed Pork Spareribs
These sticky-sweet ribs start with a long braise in a slow cooker, then take a quick turn under the broiler, where the sauce perfectly glazes each rib. Tamarind gives the sauce a rich, dark, tangy-sweet flavor. If you have a mandoline, use it to shave the vegetables paper-thin.
- 4 lb. (2 kg) pork spareribs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 Tbs. peeled and shredded fresh ginger
- 5 star anise
- 1 jalapeño chile, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped
- 1/3 cup (3 oz./90 g) tamarind paste
- 1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) ketchup
- 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) cider vinegar
- 1 Tbs. honey
- 1 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 English cucumber, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (15 g) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Lime wedges for serving
Cut the ribs into 2-bone portions. Season them generously all over with salt and pepper. In a slow cooker, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, ginger, star anise and chile until the sugar dissolves. Add the ribs and turn to coat evenly. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. The ribs should be tender.
Preheat a broiler.
Using tongs, transfer the ribs to a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Pour the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Let the liquid stand for a few minutes. Using a large spoon, skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid.
To make the sauce for glazing, pour 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) of the cooking liquid into a small, heavy saucepan. Add the tamarind paste, ketchup, vinegar, honey and soy sauce, and whisk to combine. Place over medium heat, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens to a syrupy consistency, about 8 minutes.
Brush each rib piece generously with the sauce, coating both sides completely. Transfer any remaining sauce to a bowl. Broil the ribs, turning once, until sticky and browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a platter.
In a bowl, toss together the cucumber, onion, cilantro, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Scatter the cucumber mixture over the ribs or serve alongside. Serve with the lime wedges and the remaining sauce. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Everyday Slow Cooking (Weldon Owen 2018)