Sweet and Sour Spareribs
"Indonesian Babi Pangang Pork Spare Ribs"
I love Babi Panggang and I love pork spare ribs. That's how this recipe came into being.
There are lots of variations to the recipe for Indonesian Sweet and Sour Pork. This specific recipe for Babi Panggang came from the Indonesian mother-in-law of a friend of ours who always cooks it in a pan, like a stew.
Although in a saucepan you can obtain very good results indeed, my favourite Babi Panggang is made of roasted meat. So I have adapted the recipe and changed it to Barbecue Babi Pangang. And in this particular case Barbecue Babi Pangang Spareribs
In the Malay language, "Babi Pangang" (or "Babi Panggang") means Roasted Pork. Babi Panggang probably originates from the Chinese community in Indonesia, or from the Christian parts of the country, or both.
To call Babi Pangang an Indonesian version of Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork does not do justice to the unique taste and texture of this fine example of traditional Chinese-Indonesian cooking.
Babi Pangang is quite easy to make on the barbecue and is absolutely delicious.
The following quantities should be enough to feed two persons, more if served as a snack. If you have more guests at your table, simply multiply quantities.
|Pork Spare Ribs|
|Indonesian Sweet and Sour Marinade|
|Indonesian Sweet and Sour Sauce #1|
|Atjar Tjampoer (or "Tjampur"), drained weight|
|Pineapple (fresh or canned)|
In principle, you can take any kind of pork to make Babi Panggang, as long as it is not too lean. In this recipe I used pork spareribs, as you can see on the pictures.
Check the ribs, removing all loose pieces of meat, bone particles and excess fat. To make sure that all bone particles are removed, you may wish to rinse the ribs under cold running water, then blot dry using paper towels.
Put the meat in a sealable non-reactive bowl, plastic container or "zip-lok" bag, and add the Indonesian Sweet and Sour Marinade.
Make sure all sides of the meat are covered by the marinade.
Marinate the meat for at least a couple of hours, but prefereably overnight or longer. Turn the meat frequently to ensure even cover by the marinade.
When you are ready to put the meat on the barbecue, take it out of the marinade.
Don't throw away the marinade - it's the best barbecue sauce you ever tasted! Collect the leftover liquid, onion, garlic and ginger in a saucepan and bring it to the boil a couple of times to sterilize. Set aside until needed.
Light My (Barbecue) Fire
While the meat is absorbing the marinade, prepare your barbecue for indirect grilling. I top off a Weber starter chimney with charcoal briquettes, although in summer a bit less should do the trick also.
Since a year or so, I set up my Weber barbecues for indirect grilling in a way which differs from the Weber text-book. I call this my SPLIT GRILL, and it works excellent for me, giving me a lower smoking temperature, longer smoking duration, and improved temperature control.
I always use charcoal briquettes because of their even shape and size. I also found they have a more constant quality when compared with regular "lump" charcoal (mostly small lump charcoal, that is...).
I put a few chuncks of smokewood in the coal pocket before I dumped the hot coal into it.
Alternatively, you could also put a few water soaked sticks of smoke wood (say about 1"-2" thick and 3"-5" long) on top of the charcoal once the charcoal in the barbecue is glowing and grey.
It works either way, but with the smokewood on top you probably have a bit more control.
Because of the fairly high temperature of the charcoal fire during hot smoking, and to prevent the smokewood from burning too fast, I soak my smoke wood in a bucket of water for a couple of days prior to use.
With the glowing briquettes, the smokewood and the drip pan in place, I close the lid of my kettle smoker in order to let the fire settle and pre-heat the interior.
As soon as you see that beautiful plume of Hot Smoke (!) coming out of that little Weber, it is about time to take control of the fire by closing the bottom vent holes half way.
The top vent holes will ALWAYS remain fully open!
Have a break!
From now on, all you need to do is give this baby a good hot and smokey rest. And you deserve a rest too!
Have a(nother) beer, or a coke, take a rest. Enjoy that beautiful smell of fresh burning apple or oak wood mixed with roasting meat... Watch that whisp of Hot Smoke curling away from your barby...
Hot Smoking Temperature
Since this slowfood pork will have to cook for a number of hours on a slow fire until really well done - without burning and turning black as wet charcoal - I use an electronic thermometer to continuously monitor the temperature inside the barbecue.
By adjusting the bottom vent holes gradually between open and closed, I try to keep the temperature inside the barbecue in between 300F to 350F (about 150C to 180C).
Mostly depending on ambient temperature and wind - and the resulting required burning speed of the briquettes - you may have to add some ten to fifteen glowing briquettes after about two or three hours.
Prepare Sweet 'n Sour Sauce #1
If you have not already done so, prepare the Indonesian Sweet and Sour Sauce #1 in accordance with the recipe. You can also prepare this delicous sauce in advance and heat it prior to serving.
Prepare Sweet 'n Sour Sauce #2 (ex-Marinade)
If you have not already done so, prepare the Indonesian Sweet and Sour Sauce #2 from the leftover marinade. Simply collect the liquid and all onion, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil a couple of times to sterilize.
Prepare Atjar Tjampur and Pineapple Chuncks
Similarly, heat a fair quantity of pineapple chuncks in the microwave which will serve as decoration.
When to Quit Smoking?
After some three to four hours of hot smoking at a temperature of in between 300F to 350F and without opening the lid too often, these ribs should be really well done.
You could check doneness using a meat thermometer. With the point of the probe stuck in the thickest parts of the meat the thermometer should read at least 175F (80C).
I prefer to use the simple method: take a knife and cut off a rib from a slab. Within two seconds you will have all the info you need, without any doubt.
Once you have confirmed the meat is well done, put the ribs on a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminium foil. Let rest for some ten minutes to allow the juices inside the ribs to re-distribute, thus making them taste even better!
Serving Babi Panggang
I like to serve barbecue Babi Panggang in the following manner.
These Babi Pangang Spare Ribs should be accompanied by plain white rice, fried rice or noodles. Vegetables like stir-fry pointed head cabbage or cooked green beans will go along very well also.
Cold beer (!) will go well with any barbecue, but especially with Babi Panggang! Also very suitable: cold mineral water with some thin slices of lemon.
During preparing and smoking of the pork ribs you should have pleanty of time to make yourself a Hot Smoke Long Drink, although - if you have friends and family hanging around - that should not really be a job for the pit boss...
Aah yes, and then there's Rianna and Juanita... No need to worry about them. Whatever's on the menu, they will stick to their red Rioja and Merlot...