I dont have many rules in life as I am a pretty easy going guy. One of the things I do try to live by though is that I wont sit down and create new recipes or play with new food ideas or write blog posts unless I am inspired to do so or am just in the mood to do so. Well I have been saving this post and this recipe up for some time. I have reinvented it in my head a few times and it wasn’t until this past Father’s Day that I just felt it was time to do it up right, pull out all the stops and just knock one out of park if the food God’s were willing.
Most of you know about my previous reviews of my friend’s Tom and Michele’s Intensity Academy line of products. Well all of those reviews were spurred by a set of ribs that I did using their Chai Thai Teriyaki on that I told Tom about. Tom sent me a box of products and asked me to write up the recipe and take some pictures.
To be quite honest I have held off on doing these ribs until I knew I had everything lined up flavor wise to do them justice. I wanted to give Tom something awesome, but also something easily repeatable as a recipe and I wanted to really “Draper-ize” these ribs. It took me awhile to figure out that last part. I mean let’s be honest just making a teriyaki rib is easy enough and making a smoked barbecue rib is easy enough. But in order for me to full on do these justice I wanted to make sure I was paying homage to the products used AND giving full credit to a place that I feel like I grew up in, Japan. I spent some of my most formative years in Japan and the Japanese sensibilities of cooking, philosophies and flavors permeate pretty much everything I do in one fashion or the other. So these ribs had to be recognizable as “barbecue” ribs but also had to have authentic Japanese flavors while keeping to the principles of Japanese cooking. They could not be one note. They could not just be teriyaki sweet. They could not just be ribs smoked and sauced with a barbecue sauce that had some teriyaki added.
So how does one balance this all out and make a rib that is so good you cant stop eating them? Well you start by considering your anchor product. Intensity Academy has a winner in their Chai Thai Teriyaki. It has a great depth of flavor and strikes a real balance. It is very authentic in its delivery of teriyaki flavor and it has some definite heat. Most American’s would not recognize Chai Thai Teriyaki as authentic though because we typically associate teriyaki with a very, very sticky sweet sauce. While teriyaki can be a thicker glaze in Japan it is most often used in this thinner consistency.
Given Chai Thai being a thinner teriyaki I decided to use it two ways in my recipe. Firstly as the liquid I put in the foil pack when I foil my ribs. I knew this would give them a nice rich depth of flavor and the ribs would hold on to the flavors and heat very well by doing this. Second I decided to make a rich teriyaki glaze in which to finish the ribs with. Afterall, a rib is just better when its messy and sticky. That is just a rule when eating ribs.
Next I needed to figure out a rub. What is a rib without a proper rub? I could have easily made my own with some ginger, garlic, onion powder and some chile’s but I remembered one of favorite condiments while I was in Japan…..Nanami Togarashi. I cant remember exactly what the translation means, but to me it is just basically mixed peppers with some great hits of citrus and seaweed that I put on EVERYTHING while stationed there for 3 years. It’s great on french fries, onion rings, sushi and everything in between lol. Be forewarned if do order this, it comes in a very small bottle and isnt the cheapest thing you will have in your cabinet, but to be reminded of Japan on an occasion I keep it around.
So now I had the flavor components planned out it was time to throw down and cook. I was already cooking 15 slabs of ribs that Saturday. 5 I had sold as part of a small party the rest I wanted to eat and just give away as Father’s Day presents to family members and to random neighbors. So I decided to take 3 of these ribs and give them the Asian Persuasion treatment. I’m going to start all the way at the very beginning of my cook and talk you through everything I did and do and explain they “why” as much as possible.
The night before I put the ribs on the smoker I always inspect the meat, pull the silver skin, give them a good wash and trim any pieces that dont look uniform or appetizing. Once this is done I coat the bone side of the rib with a very light coat of yellow mustard…yup the same stuff you put on hot dogs. More on the why on that in a moment. I brush on the mustard lightly on the bone side and apply the rub in a good medium coat. Flip the ribs over to the meat size and repeat the process. Once this is all done I store them in the fridge overnight. I like using the mustard for a few reasons. First it allows me to use less rub since it acts as an adherent. Second the mix of vinegar, oil and mustard helps tenderize the meat a bit but really helps move the flavors of the rub down deep into the meat. Third and most importantly I just like the flavor. Its a faint tanginess that just works in my flavor profile. You could absolutely use peanut oil or a vegetable oil instead and achieve similar results without adding the flavor of the mustard. I just like the mustard because it cheap, always available and spreads easily and allows you to see exactly where it is and where it isnt when you are applying. My only advice is that you do not get too heavy handed with it. You dont need a lot to get the job done. Just a light coat will do fine.
After a 6-12hr sit in the chill chest you are ready to rock and roll. Now I am not going to go through how to set up your smoker or your fire. I am going to trust you have that much figured out. If you dont know how to do all of that or even how to cook a good barbecue rib then I would refer you to the 3-2-1 method of cooking ribs that you can Google, but most importantly I would suggest you spend a week or so just reading everything over at Amazingribs.com. I just cant do it any better than Meathead Goldwyn already has, he is an authority and I accept most of what he suggests as gospel. Where I will start at though is about the point where your ribs has plenty of smoke and are starting to take on some really good color and you are about to foil them. If your ribs look like the pic below then you are on the right track. Note the black specs on the ribs, those are the sesame seeds and the spices that are in the Nanami Togarashi rub that I used.
As you can see here I have laid out two sheets of foil (I always, always, always double foil ribs) to keep the bones from puncturing through just a single layer of foil. I have also laid down a good strip of honey. I take the rib and lay it meat side down into this strip of honey.
I then of course add another strip of honey to the bone side of the ribs. Again note the color and the evenness of the rub and the black specks of the black sesame seeds. I did not over smoke these ribs or let them go too long. You dont need a lot of smoke for these ribs as too much bitter smoke will take away from the final flavor profile and throw it out of balance.
Next I put about 1/4c of the Chai Thai Teriyaki into the foil packet. I put about half in the cradle created by the arched bones and the remainder just in the bottom of the package. You DO NOT need a lot of liquid in the foil package. You are adding flavor here more so than moisture. If you add too much in the way of liquid here you run the risk of your ribs having a “hammy” kind of flavor to them. Believe me when these ribs get to cooking well in the foil packages they will create plenty of moisture that get’s trapped in the packets. It is not uncommon to pour off over 1c of liquid out of each rib packet.
If you really like the punch of fresh ginger I would recommend adding some fresh ginger (just a touch!) into the foil packet. I am a big fan of the stuff from Gourmet Garden that comes in the squeeze tubes. It’s potent stuff, so be careful and be warned that it can turn off some guests who may eat your ribs if they are not as big of a fan of ginger as you might be. For me, I love it and cant get enough of it.
Note how well these ribs are sealed up. This is a small thing, but will cut your cook time by about 15-20%. If that packet is fully sealed they trap all that heat and moisture and that is a good thing. I seal up both layers of foil this way. The good news is once your ribs are foiled and so long as you are not using direct heat to the bottom of the foil packets you can crank up the heat of your cooker to 300 degrees or more to expedite the cooking process. I havent found any issues with doing this and you can easily cut off 45min to an hour of your cook time by doing this.
Once your ribs are close to done you can start glazing. Bring the temp back down on your cooker and glaze every 20min until you are happy with the color. The pic above is after I had opened the foil packet, poured off the excess juice and painted on one coat of glaze. Before I get into what I did for a glaze let’s talk about “done” and ribs. This can be measured by a thermometer and that temp would be determined by whether you were cooking baby backs or spares, but I would tell you some ribs are very tender at 185 degrees and others not until closer to 195 degrees. You just have to use your judgement and look at how much the meat has pulled back from the bone and how they feel more than anything.
The glaze can be done a few ways. You can take about 2 parts honey or agave nectar to 1 part Chai Thai Teriyaki and mix it together and that will make a fine glaze. You can also double down on the teriyaki flavor by doing what I did here and taking 1 bottle of Kikkoman Teriyaki glaze and mixing that with 1/3c Chai Thai Teriyaki. If you want more ‘yaki kick add even more Chai Thai to the mixture. I found this mixture to give just about the perfect mix of flavor punch and color.
In the pic above you can see how dark the ribs can get if you glaze them 4 or 5 times. Since I had 3 racks to play with I glazed them each a different number of times just to see what the end result would be. I think 3 or 4 times is a pretty good sweet spot for the color and flavor.
As a finishing note and more for aesthetics than flavor I sprinkled a little bit of Simply Asia’s Sweet Ginger Garlic seasoning on just before serving. You can see the white sesame seeds in the pics above.
So how did they taste? In a word awesome. The ribs were smokey and sweet for sure, but what I was most pleased with was that the Chai Thai Teriyaki added a heat note that wasnt on the outside of the rib where most people expect it to be. The heat element was down all the way to the bone but it was not in anyway overpowering. The ribs hit on all the elements you would expect, but had just enough surprise along the way to keep it interesting. As a final grading process of whether I had hit the target of balancing between barbecue and Asian flavors I invited my two friends Charlie and Dani Rice over to taste test. Both know Asian cooking and my barbecue in particular very well. Each were very impressed with how the ribs were right on the money with the heat, sweet and smoke elements and how they translated so well into a teriyaki rib. In the end these ribs answered the mail and I am glad to share them with you and our friends at the Intensity Academy.
Love, Peace and Pork Grease my friends….until next time.