Sweet Chili Ginger and Soy Baby Back Ribs

This seductive chili-ginger sauce resembles a hot hoisin sauce or spicy barbecue sauce. All of the dishes have similar ingredients but completely distinct flavours. They all cover your food in mouthwatering savoury goodness, which is what they all have in common the most.

What could possibly be more thrilling than that? We immediately respond “Yes, please!” when fresh orange juice, coconut aminos, garlic, ginger, honey, and spices are combined. Hold back on the heat to keep it kid-friendly, and watch everyone devour those baby back ribs. It sounds good and tastes even better.

Finger food brings back memories of our early days and connects us to our past. When we eat with our hands, we loosen the formality of dining and forget right away about the spoons banging on the edge of the soup bowl.

What we forgo in terms of “etiquette,” we make up for by sating our senses and promoting digestion even before the food makes contact with our eagerly awaiting tongues. You’ll feel a stronger connection to your food the moment you take a bite of maple-barbecue ribs, and you probably will enjoy it more as well.

In the spirit of finger food, we suggest some zesty, grilled sweet potato wedges to complement the falling-off-the-bone sweet chili and ginger ribs. Perhaps with a tall glass of thyme lemonade on the side and some fresh cilantro to garnish?Sweet Chili Ginger and Soy Baby Back Ribs (1)


Smoke the ribs

  • Heat a smoker or grill to 225°F. Add applewood or cherrywood chips to the smoker per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Loosen the membrane at the back of the ribs by slipping a butter knife between the rib bone and membrane to loosen the corner. Then, using a paper towel to grip the edge, pull the membrane away and discard.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, paprika, salt, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, dried ginger, pepper, cumin, and cayenne. (Use immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.) Coat the ribs generously on both sides with the rub. Let the ribs sit at room temperature to allow the meat to sweat into the rub and form a paste, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Put the ribs in the smoker bone side down, and smoke according to the smoker manufacturer’s instructions for 3 hours.Sweet Chili Ginger and Soy Baby Back Ribs

Make the sauce

  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the barbecue sauce, soy sauce, and ginger. Divide the sauce into two equal portions, reserving half for serving and half for basting.
  • After the first 3 hours of smoking, lay each rack on 2 separate sheets of butcher’s paper or two sheets of foil large enough to encase the racks (doubling up prevents punctures and helps keep in the juices). Brush each rack on both sides with some of the sauce, and scatter 1 Tbs. of the butter on top of each rack. Wrap up and seal each parcel tightly, and then return the racks to the smoker for another 2 hours.
  • Gently unwrap the ribs (there will be lots of liquid in the packages) to expose the top side of the meat. Brush the tops of the racks again with the sauce, divide the remaining 2 Tbs. of butter between them, and then return to the smoker for a final 15 minutes to set the sauce.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker. Garnish with the sesame seeds, and serve immediately with the reserved sauce.


For the ribs and spice rub

  • 2 racks of pork baby back ribs (about 3-3/4 lb. each)
  • 1/4 packed cup of light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
Sweet Chili Ginger and Soy Baby Back Ribs

Sweet Chili Ginger and Soy Baby Back Ribs

For the sauce

  • 1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) salted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 to 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

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