Korean Spare Ribs

Since our trip to Korea (2 years ago) I still reminisce about the delicious food we had there. The distinct flavor of all kinds of kimchi and the delightful scent of sesame oil in Korean dishes is still very alive in my mind. For a real Korean BBQ, you need some time to marinate all the different meats. I have developed a simple recipe that approaches the Korean taste. I use spare ribs from free-range pigs to make my Korean Spare Ribs.

This recipe is enough for 4 people. For best flavor, marinate the ribs for 24 hours. The cooking of the ribs takes about 45 minutes.

Korean spare ribs

  • 4 spare ribs
  • 4/5 garlic cloves
  • 5 spring onions
  • 4 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 3 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of salty soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce
  • 1 pear
  • juice of half a lemon or 1 lime
  • 1 head tender lettuce
  • as extra, but not necessary, some freshly cut spring onions, coriander and kimchi
  • for hot marinade use 2 tablespoons of Korean fermented chili paste
  • Serve with hoisin sauce

Make sure that the spare ribs are stripped from the white layer that covers the ribs. Usually, the butcher takes it off. You immediately see that the fleece is gone because the ribs are flexible and don’t feel stiff. By removing the fleece, the meat can absorb better.

  1. Finely grate the pear. I leave the skin on. I wash the pear thoroughly before using it.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and spring onions
  3. Add the grated pear, garlic, and onions to a bowl and add the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, and sesame seeds.
  4. If you want a spicier version, Korean chili paste is a great addition.
  5. Marinate the spare ribs for 24 hours by covering them well with the marinade and wrap them in tin foil.
  6. Cook the packages on the BBQ for about 40 minutes.
  7. Remove them from the tin foil and roast them for another 15 minutes on the BBQ for a crispy layer.
  8. Eat the spare ribs by rolling up lettuce leaves with a piece of meat and a teaspoon of hoisin sauce. You can also add some freshly cut spring onions and cilantro. Kimchi is delicious with lettuce wraps too.

Below you can see two marinades (I made double the amount): the red one is with chili paste. Korean chili paste is not very hot.

I add two tablespoons to the marinade for a hot version, but if you want it even hotter, feel free to add an extra tablespoon. The grated pear makes the marinade thick so that it sticks well to the meat.

I scoop two tablespoons of the marinade onto three layers of tin foil. I place the rib on top and then add at least two tablespoons. I make sure everything is well covered. I fold the tin foil carefully so that nothing can leak.

I keep these packages in the fridge for tomorrow’s BBQ. I wrap them individually so they can go on the BBQ like this.

We use a beautiful jøtul at grandma’s; that is a Norwegian wood-burning stove known for its excellent burning capability. We bring it outside and cook the packages for about 30-40 minutes. This way the ribs will cook and stay juicy, when turned over to the BBQ.

After more than half an hour, they can be removed (moisture remains in the tinfoil) and placed on the BBQ, which is perfectly hot at that moment (the coals turn gray). Now stick around to roast the spare ribs all around in about 10 to 15 minutes.

The spare ribs remain juicy on the inside and they get that specific BBQ flavor on the outside. How nice! I gently cut the meat from the bones to roll them in the lettuce with the rest of the ingredients and the hoisin sauce. The rest (with bone) we eat the way you eat spare ribs; with your hands.

Above you can see that I was experimenting with mandarin in the marinade.
We eat these Korean spare ribs with (sushi) rice and coleslaw. Simple and tasty. We never want to BBQ in a different way.

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