Gochujang Spare Ribs

Gochujang Spare RibsResolutions
I have never really been a New Year resolution kind of gal. Sure, there have been times where I have decided to make some changes in the year to come. But, I wouldn’t call that a resolution per se. That being said, I have a plan for the new year.

Obviously, I like to eat. There are plenty of dishes that I enjoy but have never thought to try to prepare myself. So, in the new year, I’ve decided to challenge myself to navigate uncharted waters.

During the month of December, I started collecting recipes and acquiring cookbooks related to cuisines and flavors that I liked but wasn’t totally familiar with. The first of these would be the flavors of Korea. Anyone who is interested in food and food trends would know that Korean food has exploded in popularity. Gochujang seems to be everywhere and in everything but is it more than just a spicy sauce? This is what I am looking forward to finding out.

My first foray into this world last week was a recipe that was not a traditional recipe but it was darn tasty none the less. The gochujang ribs recipe listed below is very approachable for those who aren’t ready for the deep dive into Korean cuisine. Full disclosure, I didn’t use baby back ribs as directed in the original recipe. I used regular pork spare ribs out of personal preference. I think they taste better and, because they have more fat content, they don’t dry out. Either choice works well.

My plan is to take all of you on this journey with me over the next few weeks. Hopefully, I can inspire you to take up a challenge of your own or at the very least, give something different to try for dinner.

Gochujang Spare Ribs recipe
Adapted from 177 Milk Street
Yields 4 to 6 servings

3/4 cup gochujang
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 3 to 3-1/2 pound racks pork spare ribs, patted dry

Special equipment
Extra-wide (18-inch) heavy-duty foil (not the regular, thin type)

Prep the oven
Place the oven rack in the middle position and heat your oven to 300º F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with extra-wide, heavy-duty foil, then set a wire rack in the baking sheet.

Make the gochujang sauce
Whisk together the gochujang, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a medium bowl. Measure out 3/4 cup of the sauce and cover and refrigerate it to use for glazing.

Prep the meat
Cut two 20-inch lengths of foil and set them aside. Turn each rack of ribs meaty side down. Using a paring knife, cut a slit about 1 inch long in the membrane between the bones. Don’t cut through the meat.

Lay one foil sheet on the countertop and set one rib rack on top. Coat the ribs on all sides with half of the remaining gochujang sauce, rubbing it into the meat and into the cuts in the membrane. Turn the ribs meaty side down on the foil.

Draw the long sides of the foil together to cover the ribs and fold to seal tightly, then fold up and seal the short sides, creating a well-sealed packet.

Repeat with the remaining foil sheet, rib rack and gochujang mixture.

Bake the ribs
Place the packets of ribs seam-side up on the prepared rack. Bake the ribs until a skewer inserted into the meaty area between the bones meets no resistance (about 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours).

Remove the ribs from the oven and allow them to rest in their wrappers for about 10 minutes.

Reserve the liquid
One packet at a time, carefully open one end of one of the foil and pour the liquid inside the packet into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl. You should have at least 2 cups.

Unwrap the ribs and set them meaty side up directly on the rack; set aside while you prepare the glaze.

Heat the broiler.

Make the glaze
Using a spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the liquid, then pour the liquid into a 12-inch skillet. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to about 1 cup (about 15 minutes).

Whisk in the reserved 3/4 cup gochujang sauce, return the pot to a simmer. And cook, stirring occasionally, until thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail (about 5 to 7 minutes).

Glaze and broil the ribs
Brush the surface and sides of the ribs with about half of the glaze. Broil the ribs until the glaze begins to char (about 2 minutes).

Remove the ribs from the oven, brush on the remaining glaze, then continue to broil until lightly charred (about another 3 to 5 minutes).

Remove the ribs from the oven and sprinkle them with the sesame seeds. Allot the ribs to rest for about 15 minutes. Transfer the rib racks to a cutting board.

Separate the ribs by cutting between the bones, then transfer to a platter.

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