It’s slow cooker time! You gotta love slow cooker recipes just for the minimal effort aspect of them. And honestly, nothing’s better than slow cooked ribs. Since I don’t have a smoker, the slow cooker’s gonna have to do.
Now I don’t think I’d personally cook barbecue-style ribs in the slow cooker only because I don’t cook my barbecue ribs in liquid or sauce, I only use a rub. The Texas way. But there are other ways to make ribs, thankfully. For this we’re going for a more Korean-style profile.
I will say that because I slow cook these for like 7 or 8 hours, they’re not traditional eat-off-the-bone ribs. That’s just because if you were to try to pick these babies up by their bones, the meat would literally slide right off. This isn’t even an exaggeration. But that just means there are many ways to eat these!
So we’ll start with the stuff that goes into the slow cooker. For our cut-up ingredients we’re just going with garlic and ginger. A lot of it. I use about a whole head of garlic and a good ¼ cup of ginger, which I think translates to a 2-inch piece or so. Rough estimate. It might seem like a lot of garlic/ ginger, but trust me when I say it’s not at all overpowering.
As for the spices, I use just a simple blend of sugar, pepper, red pepper (for a little kick), coriander, and clove. All very traditional spices found in most asian cuisines. There is, of course, no salt in this blend. Don’t put salt in it. Don’t even thick about it. You won’t need it. Not a single grain.
That’s because of all the liquid ingredients. This is what will cover the ribs, seep in them, and make them nice and tender. I went for a blend of soy sauce, unsalted vegetable stock, rice vinegar, and honey. The most important thing here is that your stock is unsalted. Aside from beef stock, pretty much any other stock can be bought in an unsalted form (unless you consider specialty broths like miso). Because this recipe uses a large amount of soy sauce, you don’t really want anything else contributing to the salt content of the dish. Otherwise it’s very easy to over-salt these ribs. And you don’t want to be eating salty meat. If, of course, you don’t have unsalted broth of any kind, water will work just as well.
As for the meat, I don’t do anything particularly special to it. I trim a little bit of the fat since spare ribs tend to have large pockets of fat, but that’s about it. You can trim as little or as much off the ribs as you want, but I try to avoid having any fork-fulls of pure pork fat.
The cooking process is pretty complicated. Once you throw all your spices, liquids, and meat into the crock pot, you put the lid on and set it to low and cook for about 7 to 8 hours. Real tough. This could probably be cooked on high, but I like low and slow for any meat because I think it makes it more tender. Because the liquid won’t fully cover my ribs, I did have to turn them ever few hours or so, but it’s really no big deal.
Of course that’s all there is to it. I pull the rib bones out of the meat once it’s almost done because they’ll just fall right out and then it’s all about serving. If you want, you can top the finished ribs with some green onion and sesame seeds.
You can do something simple like just serving them over some white or brown rice. There’s nothing wrong with that. Other suggestions include a more complicated rice bowl or some tacos.
For the rice bowl, I topped some white rice with the ribs, pickled carrots/bell pepper/ginger, some beansprouts sauteed in garlic and soy sauce, and a fried egg. I would say it’s a pretty successful meal in a bowl.
As for the tacos, I just combined some meat, shredded cabbage, pickled vegetables, and green onions into a corn tortilla. Then I squeeze some lime juice over the top to finish it off.
The possibilities are really endless with this rib recipe.
Korean-Style Pork Spare Ribs
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 7 hours
- 1 head garlic, minced
- ¼ cup ginger, diced
- 1 tbs sugar
- 2 tsp red pepper
- 1 tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp clove
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup unsalted vegetable stock
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 4 tbs sesame oil
- 2 tbs honey
- 1 rack ribs, preferably short ribs
- Optional: green onions and sesame seeds
- Trim fat from spare ribs
- Combine sugar, red pepper, coriander, clove, and pepper in a small bowl
- In slow cooker, add soy sauce, vegetable stock, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and spice mixture
- Add in garlic and ginger and stir to combine
- Place ribs into slow cooker and toss to coat them in the liquid and submerge as much as possible (it’s okay if they’re not completely covered in liquid)
- Cook on low for 7 hours
- Pull bones out and serve
- Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds (Optional)