This post is partially inspired by the fact that my little brothers (Roman, 15, Blaise, 12, and Nash, 10) are utterly convinced that I eat nothing but oatmeal and donuts. They made this known to me when I was visiting them in Ohio earlier this month.
Thanks to jet lag, I woke up early on my first morning there and decided to make breakfast. I whipped up a batch of my savory Asiago waffles, always a hit in the Malczewski household, and offered them to my brothers as they rolled out of bed and trickled into the kitchen. At least one of them looked at the waffles, wrinkled his nose, and remarked, “You didn’t put oatmeal in there, did you? You put oatmeal in everything!” To which I answered “No, but I’m sure oats would taste DAMN GOOD in these waffles” and got extremely defensive.
(The next day I made oat waffles, just to spite him.)
While I certainly do eat a sizable amount of oatmeal and more than my fair share of donuts, I feel obligated to set the record straight, if only to assure myself that I consume more than sugary carbs. Just yesterday, I went one whole 24-hour period without eating a single donut. Two days before that, I made a smoothie for breakfast instead of oatmeal (This morning, I put the oatmeal IN the smoothie!). It is truly a wild life I lead.
Okay, so venturing beyond oats and breakfast pastries into the realm of smoothie bowls and avocado toast isn’t too much of a stretch, but I promise that I put down the porridge and the donut baking pan at least a few times a week. Some nights, I’ll braise chicken thighs, make a Vietnamese noodle salad, or try my hand at General Tso’s-style cauliflower. On lazy evenings, we’ll order katsu curry and a few sushi rolls and pretend that the seaweed wrappers count as vegetables. And once in a blue moon, when I’m feeling frisky, I’ll tackle the unfamiliar territory that is cooking a giant slab of meat.
These ribs are the product of my most recent blue moon undertaking. We don’t have a grill, but I was craving some barbecue and didn’t see any reason why an oven couldn’t do the trick. Leo suggested we make a sauce similar to the one in Bon Appetit’s gochujang ribs recipe, so I used it as a jumping off point. I slow-roasted the rack of ribs until juicy and tender, then brushed the sauce on and put the whole thing back under the broiler to mimic the charred, caramelized quality of grill-cooked ribs.
Spoiler alert: It worked. Sweet and tangy, with a stiff kick from the gochujang, the oven-baked ribs were perhaps even better than many of the donuts and bowls of oatmeal I’ve eaten (I STILL LOVE YOU, OATMEAL AND DONUTS, NEVER LEAVE ME).
The moral of the story? Try something new, if not to broaden your horizons, then to spite people! Our regularly scheduled oatmeal-and-donuts programming will continue shortly. Stay tuned.
- 1 rack pork spare ribs (about 2 lbs.)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1 small apple, cored and sliced
- 1 2-inch piece ginger root, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. light olive oil
- 1/2 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 3 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- Juice of 2 limes
- Cilantro, scallions, and lime wedges, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 300° F / 150° C. Pat the ribs dry and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Tightly wrap the ribs in foil and bake on a tray, meat side up, for 2 to 2½ hours, until the meat is tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove the ribs from the oven.
- While the meat cools, combine the garlic, scallions, apple, and ginger in a food processor and pulse until a rough paste forms. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and cook the paste until fragrant and golden. Once the paste starts to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add the gochujang, ketchup, honey, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and 1/4 cup water. Bring the sauce to a low simmer, stirring frequently, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Preheat the broiler. Unwrap the ribs and pour some of the cooking liquid into the sauce; reserve the rest of the liquid for another use, if desired. Using a brush or the back of a spoon, thoroughly coat the ribs with the sauce on all sides. Place the ribs, meat side up, on a roasting rack inside a baking tray. Broil for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is caramelized and charred in spots. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the ribs with cilantro, scallions, lime wedges, and more sauce on the side.