theresaurus

June 28, 2011

Spare ribs

Filed under: books & food — theresaurus @ 5:25 am

Little men with grass-cutting machines mowed down every living thing on the banks of the stream below, flowers and tall weeds and grasses, and now the banks are bald and ugly. The machines have been buzzing all day. I worry about the toads, I hope they’re safe in the water, now clogged with grass and shiny with gasoline in places. They’re starting in on the bushes above the banks, snapping branches in two and throwing their wooden corpses in piles. I know it will all grow back soon enough, but it’s like witnessing a massacre.

The smell of cut grass is a pretty rare thing and makes me miss lawns and sprinklers, and of course lawns means a place to charcoal-grill delicious pieces of dead animals sprinkled with spicy rubs and basted with piquant sauces. Some of the houses near the park are big and have lawns, yet nobody ever seems to actually make use of them. Sam and I feel strongly that if you have a lawn, you should be having barbecue parties on the weekends, as nature intended, and we become frustrated and envious. Lawns are wasted on the wrong people, like money. I can’t grill on the balcony and because we haven’t been back to Sam’s mother’s house due to their blood feud or whatever it is, haven’t barbecued at all this season. Cucumbers and tomatoes and edamame are starting to taste like their true seasonal selves again, and fruit is plentiful, but I’m craving smoky meats, especially spare ribs. Nobody else seems to like them. Sam doesn’t, none of his family do, Japanese women shudder at the marbled fat. Fine, I will gnaw the last bit of savory pig meat from the bones, alone, grunting quietly with pleasure as juices drip down my chin, enjoy a long draught of mead, ice cold (I am an American barbarian, after all). If I can’t cook them over charcoal, I’ll turn to the oven, the Laurie Colwin way:

From How to Avoid Grilling in Home Cooking:

“I have avoided grilling by broiling, and I have never had to bother myself about getting a supply of mesquite or apple wood, or old thyme twigs. … Everywhere in America people are lighting their grills. … I happen to live across the street from a theological seminary whose students come from all over. I know it is spring not by the first robin but by the first barbecue across the street on the seminary lawn. That first whiff of lighter fluid and smoke is my herald, and led one of my friends to ask: ‘What is it about Episcopalians, do you think? Is it in their genes to barbecue?’

“If you feel you must make something more grill-like, spare ribs are always nice, especially if you have marinated them for a couple of days. For one side of ribs you need one cup of olive oil, one half cup tamari sauce, about four tablespoons of honey, the juice of one lemon, fresh ground black pepper and lots and lots of garlic peeled and cut in half. Let the ribs sit in this marinade as long as possible — overnight in the refrigerator is the least, two days is the best. Then put the ribs in a roasting pan and put them in a slow oven — about 300 degrees — and leave them there, pouring off the fat from time to time, for three to four hours. What is left, as a friend of mine says, has no name. The ribs are both crisp and tender, salty, sweet, oily but not greasy and very garlicky. You gnaw on them and then throw the bones on the platter.”

Marinating spare ribs for more than two days really makes a difference, and I like to massage them before they go in the marinade, seems to soften them up a little more, Japanese spare ribs being so meaty. This afternoon, by Odin, I shall saddle up the steed for a journey to the market for ribs. I have not a moment to spare for the ribs to be well-marinated for the weekend.

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3 Comments »

  1. That sounds wonderful. I’ve never made ribs here, maybe I’ll give it a try.
    It would be nice to have a little piece of land to have your own bbq on instead of having to lug everything to a park.

    Comment by m-j-c — June 28, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    • The parks around here don’t allow fires, so no grilling, but even if they did, we’d be devoured by mosquitoes in a matter of minutes. If you have your own piece of land you can light anti-mosquito incense and stuff and escape inside if necessary.

      Comment by theresaurus — June 28, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  2. You clearly live in a much different part of Japan than I do. 97% of the girls I teach, when asked what their favorite food is, answer, slathering, MEAT!!!!!!! The more fat on it the better.

    Comment by Bo — June 29, 2011 @ 2:55 pm


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