Sunday, 3 June 2012

Barbecue Coffee Pork Ribs

Singapore tze-char meets American barbecue for a British summer


I started this post three days ago, seeing as it was National BBQ Week, but only managed to finish it today, and as the week draws to an end, the sun has decided to duck behind the covers of heavy grey clouds again. But who knows, there's no stopping a barbie for many people, and it is the long Jubilee weekend. I say, go ahead and plan your rockin' outdoor party! (Just be ready to turn to the horribly uncool standby, i.e. your oven, when the gloomy weather forecasts turn out to be annoyingly accurate.)

I love most things about a barbecue-- the disastrous attempts at lighting the flame, the frantic fanning of the coals, the burnt food that tries to get passed off as "lightly charred", and that very distinct smoky odour that clings to all your clothes and hair after so everyone you meet know you've just been to a barbecue. I don't love, however, the wait. A barbecue is usually a long-drawn affair. A combination of the aforementioned technical difficulties and the social politeness of passing the first few successful plates on, mean that I often go already slightly fed, just in case. It's funny though, especially since you consider the fact that most of the food cooks really quickly: steak, sausages etc, or if you're from Singapore, satay (with proper peanut sauce) and sambal stingray. My friend from the US snorts at my petty whining; apparently, the proper way to do it, is with even more time and loving attention. Think slow-marinated huge chunks of meat still with their bones in, cooked slowly over glowing (not burning hot) coal, till it becomes tender and falls apart the moment you stick your greedy fingers in. The Food Urchin wrote an article about this for the Great British Chefs blog, hop over and read, it's hilarious.



So anyway I decided to give this 'proper' barbecue thing a bit of a go. I bought a rack of pork ribs from the farmer's market, found a highly-rated recipe, promisingly called Beth's Melt In Your Mouth Barbecue Ribs (Beth is american, no less), but changed the marinade to one inspired by the highly creative tze char chefs of Singapore- coffee pork ribs. If you want to know how to do the original version, made with deep-fried spare ribs which are then coated in a gravy made with instant coffee, watch this makansutra video. The recipe that follows uses real coffee and a grill instead of a wok. (Note: There's a bit of cheating involving the oven too.)

GRILLED COFFEE PORK RIBS
Ingredients
1/2 a rack of spare ribs from a happy pastured pig (a stupid move; I should have done the whole rack)

for the rub
2 tbsp pure coffee powder (your choice of roast/origin/price, just not instant coffee processed with additives)
4 tbsp unrefined sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
generous dash of freshly ground black pepper
generous pinch of unrefined sea salt

for the glaze
leftover rub
1 tbsp strong pure coffee
1 tbsp good oyster sauce (naturally fermented, msg-free)
1 tbsp dark/blackstrap molasses

Method
1. Peel off the tough membrane that covers the bony side of the ribs. Rub the ribs all over with the rub mixture, and leave to marinade overnight for best results.
2. Lay ribs, meaty side down, on 3 layers of foil, shiny side out. Cover with 3 layers of foil and crimp edges of foil tightly to seal.
3. Now you can place in a preheated oven at 150 degrees celsius for 2 1/2 hours, or if you want to show off your bbq prowess/ insist on doing it the authentic way, place it over low heat  (110 degrees celsius for 3 hours) on the grill, flipping over halfway through.
4. After the 2 1/2 to 3 hours, the ribs should be tender and cooked (and the inner layers of foil should be kind of burnt and you'll be glad I made you use 3 layers of foil). Now unwrap the ribs, and brush on the glaze. Place over the grill for a few min until bubbly, then repeat on the other side, then keep repeating about 5 times or till happy. (If you want to do this in the oven, broil for 2 min on each side.) 
5. Let the ribs rest off the grill for 5-10 min before carving and serving. No cutlery required, eat with hands, and lick your fingers after.


I know coffee doesn't seem like the most obvious pairing with pork, but you'll be surprised. The bitterness of the coffee strikes a perfect delicious contrast against the sweet and savoury sauce clinging to the oh-so-tender ribs (thank you america). And of course, there's that intoxicating aroma of coffee, spiked with the warm scent of the spices added. I'm not the kind of  person who goes through 10 cups of coffee a day, who loves her coffee enough to track down the Monmouth beans in town, nor can I pick out a single estate brew from Ethiopia or Columbia, but I found the ribs worryingly addictive. Skip the cake, and have your coffee with a pork rib or two (:


37 comments:

  1. o my...this looks fingerlicking!

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  2. Bittersweet goodness. These look divine! Closest I've come to licking my computer screen in a while :)

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  3. It's been quite some time since I have done ribs. I've been thinking a lot about them lately. Maybe you have given me a nudge.

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  4. Brilliant post.....love pork ribs! In fact I love pork, full stop ! I love the pairing of coffee with BBQ ribs...another good way is to use brewed espresso as a basting liquid...give a really good smoky end result. :)

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  5. These look fantastic, certainly worthy of the Jubilee celebration!

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  6. I've had this before. Yes, they were a "thing" to be excited for. We went back to that very same restaurant several ten times. I'm not my best at handling meat but this is a recipe to try! :D

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  7. Extraordinary photos, beautiful illustration and a brilliant recipe! I love the idea of combining coffee and pork flavours. I am glad to see your oven version because I don't have a grill or a bbq (I still remember a tv program about south US bbq contest and this is where I learnt grilling is not barbecuing, as you mention...). I haven't had ribs for ages and they are my favourite pork cut (well actually I hesitate between ribs and belly). Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

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  8. oh my this looks so delicious, I will definately try it out!

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  9. This looks so GOOOOODDD! I however do not have a grill to slow cook these babies. a Malaysian bbq is quite typically the same with Singaporean one.. :)\P

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  10. Angie: Thanks! Yes, I insist you only eat with your fingers, no cutlery allowed.

    Natali: Haha how did it taste?

    Stepphen: You're the american! I'm sure you're even better at this than me.

    J: I did used brewed strong coffee, I guess that would be the espresso glaze?

    Farine: Happy Jubilee!

    Pencil kitchen: The results reminded me of the coffee pork ribs in tze char stalls, but there's also a slightly smoky element to it, and of course it's less greasy, you should try it!

    Sissi: Thanks sissi! My favourite pork cut is hands down belly. Then trotters. Pork ribs come a close third ;)

    Katherinerle: Let me know how it goes ;)

    Shannon: You can do it in the oven too, it will definitely have less of that smoky bbq flavour, but taste-wise, it should be still delish!

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  11. This looks great Shuhan! Love that last food porny pic, it makes me want to grab the whole rack with my hands and cram it in my face. I've seen coffee in barbeque sauces before, it's a wonderful addition! Now I'm SO curious about the sambal stingray!

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    1. I added the link, you can go take a look (: I did it in Singapore last summer, cheating though, not on a bbq..at least I had the banana leaf from my garden.

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  12. Oh dear God yes! :D That looks amazing... I'm not sure what it must taste like... I'm guessing delicious though to be honest... rich, slightly bitter coffee, delicious ribs... seems like a perfect combination and it looks fabulous!

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    1. Thanks charles! I like the bitterness of the coffee with the sweet ribs (:

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  13. yup i've heard a lot about coffee rubbed pork ribs but i've never had a chance to make them. I do agree the difference between the American BBQ and Asian BBQ. People here like to gril and smoke the meat slowly until it falls off the bone.

    Your recipe sounds absolutely delicious and I'll def give it a try soon. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, it's a very different concept of bbq-ing altogether! I like it all soft and tender too, though I must say, the wait is a killer.

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  14. Caffeine laced sweet sticky ribs?
    I really don't mind having this for dessert :p
    LOL!

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    1. Hehe I'll have this over dessert any day, I'm not a fan of sweets.

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  15. Omg WOW... Shu Han, I know I've said this to you before, but you really are one in a million. This is fantastic!! And I seriously enjoy all the artwork you've been putting up in your posts too. Am sure it's a lot of work to keep doing that so I hope you know that me, along with all your bazillion of readers/fans, really appreciate all your efforts on your blog. These look soo lip smackingly good. Thanks!! =D

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    1. WINSTON! you're always so sweet, thanks so much for the kind words! It is quite a bit of work but I really am enjoying it and hearing things like that from people who read my blog esp make my day (:

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  16. Oh yes, totally saving this recipe for the future BBQ. I think I've either had this or heard about this. Can't remember but the recipe using ground coffee beans sound so familiar... Your ribs sound so amazing! I'm a big ribs fan and I'm totally sold here. Drool!

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    1. Thanks nami, I'm glad this is approved by a ribs-fan(:

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  17. You won't find too many Americans that don't just LOVE BBq'd ribs. Yum! It looks like you did an excellent job. Very messy eating but absolutely delicious.

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    1. Thanks sarah! I must say, I'm converted after trying the slow-cooked tender meat doe the american way!

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  18. This sound similar like coffee spare ribs serving in Chinese restaurant here, I know this is good!

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  19. These sound utterly delicious! Never heard of coffee on ribs but they look gorgeous - will have to save this for summer, if it ever arrives!

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  20. I get the coffee thing and imagine it to be a fine partner to pork. What is very interesting is the technique you use to cook the ribs. New to me and it's always good to learn different techniques. I bet you must have kicked yourself not doing more. That has happened to me before and every time I make them there is rarely any leftovers. Everyone adores ribs!

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    1. I tend to cook less when I'm trying out something new, then yes I kickmyself after that!

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  21. I had these at Goz's supperclub and they were bloody amazing. I will be recreating these soon!

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  22. man, haven't had coffee ribs since I was last in singapore. Awesome. My new fav blog. Thanks!

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  23. Hey Shu,

    Made the ribs, how do we say in American? Oh, yea, they are dope! I am totally going to follow you!

    Thanks,

    Christoff

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    1. Yikes incredibly late reply but, WOO HOO. Glad it's approved by an American! ;)

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  24. hi!
    just wondering if its ok to eat the coffee grounds in the rub... like, will the pork's texture taste funny with the rough coffee grounds all over it? gonna make this tonight! (:
    thanks!

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    1. Don't worry about the coffee grounds,it will add to the texture of the coating over the ribs.Good luck! Post me a photo on facebook or twitter or something- would love to see it ;)

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    2. Hi thanks for the quick reply! The ribs turned out great! Here's a photo of it: http://oi60.tinypic.com/2h3pmiw.jpg
      Oops devoured them before I rmbed to take a photo :P

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