Japanese Style BBQ Baby Back Ribs

This is a Japanese version of an American classic. This recipe breaks tradition by braising the ribs until they’re tender, then grilling. This way, you’ll get both fall-off-the-bone tenderness and nice caramelization. Save the braising liquid; it cooks down into a phenomenal barbecue sauce.

Japanese Style BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Serves 4

2 racks baby back ribs (about 5 to 6 lbs)
1 whole unpeeled bulb garlic, halved horizontally across the mid-section
1 medium Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
½ cup tomato puree
1 cup sake
2 Tbs rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
3 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs red miso
½ Tbs siracha sauce
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 Tbs sesame seeds, for accent

Cut each rack of baby back ribs in half, which will yield 4 portions of 5 to 6 ribs each. To a large stockpot, add the ribs, 6 cups water, garlic, onion, carrot, tomato puree, sake, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, miso, tobanjan, and peppercorns and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat so the liquid gently simmers. Remove any scum or oil that floats to the surface. Cover the pot and cook until the ribs become tender, about 1 hour.

Remove the ribs from the pot and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid. To make the marinade, bring the cooking liquid to a boil over high heat and boil until it reduces by half and becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow the liquid to come to room temperature. Transfer the liquid to the jar of a blender, cover, and pulse until smooth, about 1 minute. Pass the liquid through a fine-meshed strainer suspended over a large bowl and discard any solids caught in the strainer. Set the marinade aside.

Preheat a grill to hot. Grill the ribs for about 4 minutes, flipping once. When the ribs are browned and sizzling, brush the marinade on top. Grill for about 2 more minutes, flipping 2 or3 times, and brushing on more marinade after each turn. Let the ribs rest for 2 minutes. Accent with sesame seed and serve.


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