I had a lazy Sunday planned. No cleaning, no housework, no fighting the never-ending battle against crabgrass in the herb garden and no strenuous cooking. I just wanted to sit in bed and binge watch episodes of Murder, She Wrote on Netflix. It’s a glamorous life I lead. But there was still the question of dinner. Sure, the ultimate lazy way to feed yourself would be to order a pizza but, after moving to a self-proclaimed “pizza city”, I was becoming a regular at a few pizza joints a little too quickly and the delivery guys were catching on. Having grown up in a suburban neighborhood development where busy-bodied nosey neighbors were as noxious as the crabgrass invading my chili plants, I also had visions of my new neighbors looky-looing from their closed blinds at the regular parade of delivery cars, imaging them saying “they ordered pizza… again!” to their husbands or wives (this is probably totally fictitious and solely the product of an overactive and paranoid imagination but whatever). So I decided to give everyone a break for the evening.
When such a day is in order I have to recommend these slow-roasted Asian country-style pork ribs. They need to marinade for 24 hours (ideally) before you’re going to cook them but it’s really just a matter of pouring, grating and plunking things into a container, the only knife-work being to split a chili, roughly chop a green onion and a few cloves of garlic (which, frankly, I leave the skin on). What I like best with this is some Cold Asian Noodles, which are about as equally simple. Just mix, say, 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and rice vinegar, 2 t-spoons each of fish sauce and honey, a few drops of sesame oil and a smashed clove of garlic and set it aside. Boil either some chow mein noodles or vermicelli (12 ounces, or thereabouts, to serve four) to just a bit past al dente, drain and rinse with cold water. Rub your hands with a thin layer of vegetable oil and toss the pasta about to lightly slick it with oil before plunking into the dressing, tossing to coat it (obviously, remove the garlic clove, too). Thinly slice a few handfuls of snap peas and some green onions on a bias, chuck in some bean or alfalfa sprouts and white sesame seeds and stash it in the fridge to cool. The contrast between the cold, cold noodles, themselves soft, but crunchy with fresh peas and sprouts, against the deep, roasted intensity of the pork is truly nirvana inducing. But we just had that a week earlier so I opted for some soy-ginger green beans—just as good and as easy.
Country-style pork ribs are perfect for something like this. They have a great porky flavor, which means they can stand up to strong flavors like these; good marbling without being overly fatty or full of connective tissues, which means they can be slow roasted and still stay moist from natural, self-basting; and they’re pretty inexpensive, too, which means you can feed a crowd of people with them without any buyers’ remorse. Despite what their name suggests, they are not ribs at all; they come from either the spot on the pig where the baby-back ribs and shoulder meets or from the blade portion of the shoulder. You mostly see them sold boneless, but bone-in is also an option—the bone being part of the shoulder bone. I’ve only ever made this with the bone-in kind but I have to believe boneless would work just as well. Actually, this time I made them I used a cut called “pork loin country-style rib chops”, which I assumed at the time of purchase was a bastardized cut of meat made in error by a new butcher or something but was wrong; it includes a bone and a little portion of lean loin meat. I was happy enough with it but I have to say I much prefer the true country-style rib.
The list of ingredients for the marinade is a little lengthy but each one is pivotal to any home Asian cooking and whatever can’t be kept in the pantry stays viable in the fridge for a while. If you regularly cook Asian-inspired food at home you’re bound to have them and if you don’t, well, here’s a great place to start!
Into a container that’s large enough to fit the pork snuggly, pour in some soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, hot chili paste (Sambal Oelek), honey, toasted sesame seed oil, and a bit of water and vegetable oil. Split a habanero in half, smash a star anise, grate some ginger, and roughly chop some garlic and green onion and mix those in.
Submerge the pork in and let the fridge do the work for 24 hours.
The ribs need about 2 hours and 15 minutes to cook so 3 hours and 15 minutes before you plan to eat take the pork out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter to come to room temperature. Once they’re at room temp, line a roasting pan with some aluminum foil and place the pork in the pan so that they aren’t touching each other. You don’t want to let any marinade drip off the pork really, and I’d even say to dribble a spoonful of the marinade over each rib. Cover the pan and slide into your oven, preheated to 275°.
For the next two hours all you have to do is flip them over halfway through and re-cover them.
After the last hour is up, remove the foil and turn the broiler on. Okay, now you have to put a little effort in… watch the pork for the next 5 – 10 minutes or so, taking care that they don’t burn, but, rather, caramelize and bronze on top.
Remove them from the oven and scatter them with some thinly sliced green onions and minced red chilies if you want, and eat… in front of the TV, or not.
The green beans are simple enough, too. Bring a pot of water to a full rolling boil, salt it heavily and drop the trimmed green beans in for just 30 seconds. Then drain them and immediately plunge them into a big bowlful of ice water. They can hang out here for up to 2 hours (not bad timing, right?).
In the meantime, grate some ginger, pick it up into your hand and squeeze it as hard as you can into a bowl. I do this method for ginger because you get the full peppery zing of it but none of the fibrousness. Mix in some soy sauce, a bit of arrow root and a few drops of sesame seed oil. I use arrow root because it thickens this sauce so instantly—much quicker than cornstarch—and I also have a small jar of it right next to the stove. I’m a victim of my own laziness.
While the pork is crisping under the broiler drain the beans and shake them of as much water as possible. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a large pan and, once hot, drop in the green beans.
Toss them around for just a minute or two, turn the heat to low and pour in the sauce. Toss it all together so the green beans are coated in the sauce and sprinkle in some toasted white sesame seeds.
Enjoy your lazy weekend to the fullest, and don’t forget to follow me on BLOGLOVIN’!