Father’s Day Tamarind Ribs

After I dragged my dad to his first (and probably last) spin class this Saturday for a Father’s Day weekend special, I needed to repay him with a spectacularly good Father’s Day dinner. So, per usual, I turned to my trusty guide: Bon Appétit(If you haven’t noticed, Bon Appétit is my cooking bible). A few weeks ago, I had made tamarind glazed baby back ribs for some friends, but my parents had been left without leftovers (as they kept reminding me).

Accordingly, I decided to make an encore batch of the highly successful tamarind glazed baby back ribs from Bon Appétit. Making the ribs was a long process that took an entire afternoon, even the second time around. I promise that making this recipe is well worth the long, multi-step process (including braising, reducing the sauce and grilling).

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Making the ribs:

I started the process at 1:00pm, and the braising process started around 1:30. Other than peeling ginger (the best technique is to freeze the ginger and use a paring knife), the prep work for the dish is minimal. For me, the hardest part is grilling because I am still a novice with my family’s beloved charcoal grill. Luckily, my dad was willing to help me out on his “day off.”

While making the ribs, I listened to Lorde’s new album Melodrama. I have loved Lorde since her EP, The Love Club, and was thrilled when I heard that she had a new album coming out. My favorite song on the album is Writer in the Dark although Green Light and Sober are both great summer dance anthems.

Notes on the ribs:

Last time, I used five pounds of ribs and five smaller habanero peppers (the recipe called for six large peppers). With a reduced amount of meat (only 3.65 lbs), I still used six large habanero peppers with the seeds left in. Even with my Texan spice tolerance, my mouth was on fire. While my parents used beer to cool their mouths off, I opted for watermelon and sucking on the lime wedges that accompanied the ribs. Basically, unless you love torching your mouth, I recommend taking the seeds out of all of the habanero peppers put into both the braise and the sauce.

Although not typical of Texan baby back ribs, I personally think this rib recipe tops all of the barbecue ribs. Tamarind gives the ribs a beautiful sweet taste, while the ginger and star anise add really strong Indian flavor (this BA recipe has been adapted from Gunpowder, a London-based Indian restaurant). If you’ve never heard of tamarind, its a great way to add both sweetness and tang to tons of dishes. This recipe calls for tamarind concentrate, which I was able to find at Central Market (you’ll notice that both Bon Appétit and Central Market are recurring sources throughout my cooking). In case you can’t find tamarind concentrate at your grocery stores, amazon can help you out (See here.)

The next time I make these ribs (hopefully, at least once more before the school year starts up again), I plan to make them with homemade naan and a yogurt sauce that would take the edge off the heat (although the watermelon worked nicely with the ribs).

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I ate the ribs with my hands, but my mom preferred to use a knife and fork.

Final verdict: 

These ribs are fantastic and a great way to mix up the summer grilling rotation. I highly recommend making these for a unique barbecue that interrupts the pattern of traditional American barbecue (although there’s nothing quite like an old-fashioned barbecue: brisket, baby back ribs, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw). Plus, these were perfect for Father’s Day!

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