Sunday, August 15, 2021

Peach Gochujang Braised Ribs

I've been cooking a lot this summer. Mainly new things. Dishes I have not cooked. Things I have not tried. I guess it's the thing to do after a long isolation, or once all roads seem to lead to nowhere. You roll up your sleeves and turn to cooking. Because it's an adventure. You turn on the knob, and fire up the stove, and voila, a voyage begins. It takes you to new places, exciting places, at the time when traveling may not be possible. It's all in the mind's eye people, it's all in the mind's eye. 

Which brings me to peaches. Because there is a huge story to tell here and a wonderful journey to embark on. Let me share a secret, the best kept secret in the world -- peaches are an MVP ingredient in so many savory dishes. Trust me. Cakes and tarts, ice creams and cobblers, step aside and yield to sauces and marinades, curries and tagines, glazes and braises. It started with peach gazpacho, peach panzanella, and of course, grilled peaches with burrata (and cured olives, try that for an unexpected punch). But then it got bolder. As in lamb kofte in peach ginger sauce, bolder. As in corn, cod, and peach curry bolder (this is now on our weekly repertoire, so stay tuned). As in peach gochujang braised ribs bolder. Forget about barbecue sauce, because peach gochujang is the real thing. And forget about barbecuing, grilling and roasting, because braising is like, hallelujah, what I have been thinking all this time... One day in the marinade, and 120 minutes in the oven, and the ribs are succulent, juicy, very tender, a bit sweet, a bit tart, a bit spicy, and finger-licking good. 

"The best ribs I have ever tasted," said my daughter. And she doesn't even eat fruits.

Serve with grilled corn, coleslaw, pickled cucumber, and radishes. 

And hurry, the peach season is almost at the end.


Peach Gochujang Braised Ribs

4 ripe yellow peaches or nectarines, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 generous tablespoon gochujang paste
2 shallots or 1 small sweet onion (about 2 oz)
3 medium garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Turbinado or light brown sugar
1-inch-long knob of ginger, peeled and cut into small chunks
zest and juice of one lime (about 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon soy sauce 
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 pounds baby back ribs 

First make the marinade. In a blender, combine the peaches, gochujang paste, shallots, garlic, sugar, ginger, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Blend into smooth pure. Add the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Put the meat in a deep baking dish or roasting pan and cover with the marinade. Make sure that the ribs are fully covered with the marinade. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil tightly and place in the oven. Braise for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and braise for another 75 to 90 minutes, until the ribs are very tender, and almost but not quite falling off the bone.

Remove the ribs from the pan. Pour the pan juices into a medium saucepan and skim fat. Rinse the pan and cover the bottom with aluminum foil. Place the ribs back into the pan and in the oven, uncovered, to brown for another 20 minutes. (Make sure that you cover the pan with the foil, otherwise the sugars from the marinade will stick to the bottom and burn, leaving you with a big cleaning job.)

While the ribs are in the oven, reduce the sauce. Put the saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Keep the heat high until the sauce begins to thicken somewhat, then reduce to medium to prevent from burning. Remove when the sauce has thickened to the consistency of barbecue sauce. It will take about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the saucepan. (The sauce will thicken some more as it cools.)

Brush the ribs with a little bit of sauce, then divide, and place them onto a serving platter. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side for dipping.

Serves 4