Asian Baby Back Ribs

Sticky and fabulous

Serves 4
Serving Size: 6

asian ribs the mom 100

I created this recipe as my Father’s Day gift to my husband Gary, who loves ribs more than any one else I know, with the exception of my own father.  My kids are no slouch in the rib-loving department either.  Below is a photo of Jack when he was about 1 1/2, eating his first rib.  In it he looks simultaneously surprised and perplexed and ecstatic, and maybe a little drunk.  In my mind the caption for this photo was always, “For the love of God, where have you people been hiding the pork?”

Jack with Ribs

“Just give me a moment here.”

If you have a food processor, small or large, this marinade comes together in a flash.  If you are a cutting board-and-knife kind of a cook, then it will take a tiny bit longer, but it’s still an extraordinarily simple and flavorful sauce.

I almost feel like paper napkins should be listed in the actual ingredient list, since they are so critical to the enjoyment of this dish.  These are great eaten outside, with no white clothes or tablecloths or cushions in sight.  These are great with potato salad, or mashed potatoes, and a salad with Japanese Restaurant Dressing or sautéed spring greens.  And for the grown ups, a cold beer.

You can re-heat leftover ribs in a 300°F oven for 15 minutes.  This recipes multiplies easily.

Asian Baby Back Ribs

Asian Baby Back Ribs


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 scallions, trimmed
  • ¾ cup hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup rice wine or cider vinegar
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce (or 1/3 cup regular soy sauce plus 2 tablespoons water)
  • 1/3 cup mirin or dry sherry
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 racks (4 to 5 pounds) baby back ribs (see Tip 1)

1. In a food processor or blender, first finely mince the garlic and scallions.  Add the hoisin, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, mirin or dry sherry, and honey and process until well blended.

2. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat (see Note).  Simmer for 5 minutes to develop and marry the flavors, then let cool slightly.

3. Pour the sauce into a plastic container with a lid, large enough to hold the ribs, or it’s quite handy to marinate the ribs in a large heavy duty-zipper top bag.  Add the ribs to the marinade and turn so they are well-coated.  Marinate the ribs for at least 4 hours, and up to a day in the fridge (or not; see Note again).

4. To bake the ribs and finish them on the grill, preheat the oven to 300°F.  Place the ribs meaty side up, in two rimmed baking sheets that have been lined with aluminum foil, such as Reynold’s Wrap (you do not want to skip this step). Bake the ribs for 1 hour.  Shortly before the hour is up, preheat the grill to medium (see Tip 2).

5. Arrange the ribs on the grill, meatier side down to start, and grill for about 20 minutes, turning the ribs frequently so they won’t burn, and basting them with any marinade that remains in the pan as you go.  Don’t wander away.  Remove the ribs from the grill and let them sit for about 5 or 10 minutes before slicing them.  Serve hot or warm.

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Short Cuts

Say you didn’t have the time to heat and cool the sauce. And say you didn’t have the time to marinate the ribs for 4 to 12 hours. You are still going to make some fine ribs. Skip the heating and cooling part and just use the blended marinade as is. You could also reduce the marinating time in the fridge – the flavors won’t penetrate the meat so deeply, but that’s ok.
Cooking Tip #1

You can also do this with 4 or 5 pounds of larger spareribs, just cook them for about 2 hours in the oven before grilling them, or cranking up the heat.

Cooking Tip #2

To cook the ribs completely in the oven, simply raise the heat to 400°F at the end of the hour, and let them go for another 30 minutes, giving them a good baste or two towards the end, and watching carefully to see that they don’t burn.

Or, you can cook the ribs completely on the grill, but given the significant sugar content in this sauce, this requires some vigilance on your part. Either preheat a gas grill to medium-low, or set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling. Arrange the ribs on the grill but NOT over the direct flame, with the meaty side up to start, and grill them for an hour, turning them frequently, and watching closely for flare-ups.

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12 thoughts on “Asian Baby Back Ribs”

  1. Sally says:

    The sauce sounds very good. I don’t have a grill so I either cook ribs in the oven or a slow cooker and finish under the broiler. Obviously none of that great outdoor grill taste, but still very good!

  2. Anna says:

    Just put this on our list of things to have this week. Can’t wait. The thing that caught my eye was that my son had the same PJs and hook-on baby chair as your Jack. Love!

    1. I loved those pjs! I kept a bunch for nostalgia, but I think most of them were too trashed/stained to hold on to….

  3. David Ruiz says:

    We will def be trying these over the 4th!

    1. let me know how they turn out?

  4. Ed Wessel says:

    This recipe is made for me. I had everything in the pantry except for the scallions ,which I had as bunching onions in the garden, and the ribs. Marinaded for 6 hours. Now in oven and started the fire in my green egg BBQ. Can’t wait. For tomorrow’s July 4th annual picnic with a dear friend on Chappy. Will advise.

  5. Gayle Kesinger says:

    Have used another recipe for several years with Bobby Flay’s rub and the same procedure but this sounds delicious. If we ever get some warmer weather here in Dallas, the ribs are coming right out of the freezer and into this sauce.

    1. Katie Workman says:

      I hear you! It’s freaking enough of this weather already!

    2. Katie Workman says:

      enough of this weather already!

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