Nigella meets Kylie. Pork spare ribs in Soy ginger honey

Note: Recipe at the end followed by some sensuous photos

Confession time. For all my love of pork, I had cooked pork only twice before this. I am not counting cold cuts with which I do some fairly wicked noodles and pastas. But pork in its purest form has been a disaster zone. It just wouldn't open up to me. I tried to make vindaloo in the early years of my cooking and our marriage. The blessed meat wouldn't cook despite two or three attempts. I never tried to cook pork again. That was about nine years ago. Then a year or so back I tried to make Goan sausage chilli fry. Something K makes with aplomb. Again it didn't cook properly. Pork just didn't speak to me!

A friend was coming over on Friday night. K suggested calling from Kakori House. But I had a plan. I wanted to give char siew, the Chinese dish that I fell in love with in KL, a shot. I found this recipe at Rasa Malaysia's. Seemed an easy enough one. Except that we don't have an oven in our house. I still don't know why. We didn't have skewers either. But I had a dream. Microwave. Pan sear. I had a plan to improvise. I called Jude's, Meghna, Mark's and Joseph's in the evening. Cold storages in Bandra. They all promised me pork belly the next day! Now making char sieu without pork belly would be like making Tandoori Chicken with chicken liver.

But by then there was piggy in my mind. So I reached home and walked into Meghna's at Pali Market and picked up half a kilo of spare ribs. Mr Bajaj of Meghna's told me tat they don't keep pork belly everyday as many avoid it due to its fatty content. Strange. I bought the spares only after I saw that they had a layer of fat.

I didn't have a recipe but I got the idea of the marinade from the start of Rasa's char siew recipe. The idea of microwaving from my friend Kirti who had served us lovely spares and told us that they cooked well in the micro. I texted him and soon the answer came, '12 minutes'.

I returned from work, shopped at Pali Market and came home. The plan was to make a Pad Thai noodles. Except that K doesn't like flat noodles too much. So I risked a Sino Siamese confrontation by planning to make a Pad Thai with Hakka noodles. I chopped everything, boiled the noodles. Noodles need to be made just before eating. Was a breeze when I cooked it as 1.30 PM after going to a gym and after a long chat with Jack. Here's the original Pad Thai recipe.

Getting back to the spares, I decided to make the marinade, dunk the pork in, squeeze in half an hour in the gym and shower and be ready for our guest. I microwaved the marinade for a couple of minutes going by the Rasa Malaysia theme of reducing the marinade. I got excited as I saw the marinade caramelise. Then I slid in the spares. It was orgasmic. Had the makings of a, excuse me ladies, an effing w@# dream.

Think seduction. Decadence. Indulgence. Titillation. Gay abandon. The end of innocence. 'The summer of 42'. Think of egg whites streaming through stretched fingers with the yolk bobbing on palms. Red juicy steak being sliced. Sour cream, licked, smeared on the lips. Chocolates bars from the fridge nibbled on with a 'come hither' smile as the credits flash by. Think of every forbidden pleasure. Think of ramming into the TV on the treadmill as you single mindedly chased the promises on the TV screen. That's the sort of primordial feelings that the sight of spare ribs sinking into their Oriental bed evoked.

Photo credit:

So without much ado, here is the lazy man's, one vessel, sacrilegious but convenient, microwave (!) recipe for Pork Spare Ribs:

I can't think of Oriental spare rib recipes without honey. But K doesn't like sweet spare rib sauces. So I tempered it with soy and garlic. Memories of Kylie egging me on

Photo credit:

  • Marinade: 4 tablespoons of dark soy sauce (the salt come from this), 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of slivers of fresh ginger, 3,4 pieces of star aniseed (Rs 10 for 10 g at Vijay Stores, Pali Naka, Bandra), 2.5 tablespoons of Thai sweet chilli sauce (any chilly sauce would do), 1 teaspoon of crushed black pepper powder
  • Put this in a microwave dish and switch on the microwave for 2 minutes. The marinade will thicken and caramelise. 
  • Slide in the spare ribs and place them one beside each other. Try to marinade this as long as possible. I managed about 3 hours in the fridge.
  • COOK: Put it in the micro. Switch it on for 15 minutes. Post which you'll see the fat begin to sizzle
  • Switch it one for another ten minutes before eating. Total of 25 in versus the 12 minutes which Kirti said. But remember, I was scarred by earlier memories of the vindaloo that refused to cook. 
  • Garnish with some fresh ginger and red bird's eye chillies
  • Closing thoughts: The sauce was really delectable and had infused into the meat. The fat was cooked just right and slithered down your mouth with each bite. The meat was not chewy but had shrunk a bit compared to restaurant spare ribs. Remember we hadn't used any tenderisers.
I guess that this was the dish that put the ghost of the vindaloo to rest after almost a decade. And in a push button recipe. Just the sort of cooking that I like. Paired pretty well with the Hakka Pad Thai too.

These were my most satisfying set of food photographs. Inspired and influenced by the Jyotika Purwar school of photography. But then, rarely do you get a swim suit model as luscious as pork spare ribs. 

UPDATE: Finishing on a flame.

I made this again on NY eve. This time microwaved the pork with the marinade for ten minutes. Transferred the contents to a saucepan. Kept it over a slow flame till the sauce dried up. The end result was a lot more juicy and succulent. 

Crushed peanuts for Pad Thai
Pad Thai: Thai at heart, Chinese in form
Putting a nine year old ghost to bed

 Attempt 2: finishing on a saucepan


Unknown said…
You are torturing me. This reminds me of the endless summer bbqs. Somehow Im imagining the sauce to be sweet and spicey and the meat divine. Meat that comes clean off the bone.
I love this "Jyotika Purwar school of photography" Too much!!!
Revati Upadhya said…
the fact that your pictures just made me drool, is a sign of good captures! great pictures!
Kirti said…
looks delicious. Try placing it over a naked gas flame to give it a slightly chargrilled flavour.

Next time in Mumbai, I will visit you only for the spare ribs
Anonymous said…
What fantastic pictures!!
Miri said…
Yummy - and I can't even eat pork! :) My friend who makes delicious spare ribs marinates them for atleast 6 hours. I am intrigued by the microwave option though....makes it a lot easier, but hope it doesn't dry it out too much?
Scarlett said…
Foor pornography, so you're at it again :)

OK Kalyan, two questions:
1) What's star anise called in Hindi/Bengali?
2) When you cook meat in the micro, do you cover the dish with a cling film to retain the moisture in the meat? Or do you cook it open?
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Masterniji, yes it did come off the bone beautifuly

@hAAthi: thanks

@Kirti, that was the plan for the char siu...will try when you come over

@Miri, I didn't have that much time as I'd come back from work. Thanks to the patience of our guest got about 3 hours. No, it didn't dry

@Scarlett: Not sure. My Gujju grocer at Pali knows it as Star Anise :P
I've never used cling film but that's a good idea
Hermit said…

SO I tried out the pork spare ribs recipe last night. The marination tastes out of this world, but the meat got overcooked (the fat line had become crispy black) and therefore a bit of a disaster. I guess I needed less than 25 mins in the microwave... But a really yummy recipe... Thanks!!!
Shinta said…
Loving the oven substitute idea. I also don't have an oven (had to leave behind my beloved OTG in Bangalore, while moving to Europe last month). Pork is one of my all - time favorite meats, ranking right up there with prawns. Do you have more recipes for which you pre-cook in the Microwave before finishing in a pan?
Shreya said…
Food Writing at sensuous best!
Can pork be substituted with mutton?you must be hating this qn!
Star Anise is called Patthar phool in Hindi.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Shinta, Hermit ... this is what I do these days. Ten minutes in micro after marination. Put the contents into a pan and keep it on the hab till the marinade dries up. Delightfully tender, hasn't failed me yet

@Seashells :) thanks. I find lamb to be more similar to beef in texture so not sure if the recipe will work. One can always experiment and see