One reason these ribs are so impossibly good is that they're braised for hours and then deep-fried so they're supercrisp. The sauce—which includes ketchup and plenty of garlic—was originally concocted for chicken wings.
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14 large garlic cloves—8 peeled and smashed, 6 minced
1/2 cup sliced fresh ginger plus 1/4 cup minced (6 ounces total)
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
4 star anise pods
3 cups soy sauce
2 quarts water
2 cups ginger ale
1/2 cup dry white wine
Strips of zest and juice from 1 navel orange
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cilantro stems plus 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
3 racks of baby back ribs (5 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large roasting pan, combine the smashed garlic with the sliced ginger, scallion whites, star anise, 1 1/2 cups of the soy sauce, the water, ginger ale, white wine, orange zest and juice, granulated sugar and cilantro stems. Set the pan over 2 burners and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.
Add the baby back ribs to the roasting pan, cover tightly with foil and bake for about 2 hours, or until the ribs are very tender. Let cool to room temperature, then spread the ribs out in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 30 minutes. Discard the braising liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil. Add the minced garlic and ginger and the scallion greens and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of soy sauce, the brown sugar, ketchup and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the chopped cilantro. Transfer the rib sauce to a large bowl.
In a large, sturdy pot, heat 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil to 375°. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch. Cut the racks into individual ribs. Toss the ribs in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Working in batches, fry the ribs until the coating is lightly golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the ribs to paper towels to drain briefly, then add them to the sauce in the bowl and toss to coat. Pile on a platter and serve hot.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3; refrigerate the ribs and sauce separately for up to 2 days.
Cocktail Match Cosmopolitan with a splash of watermelon juice.
Zinfandel, with its voluptuous berry-driven flavor and modest tannins, makes a nice match for these equally over-the-top ribs. While the greatest Zinfandels are often single-vineyard wines from ancient vines, some moderately priced California Zins instead gain complexity by blending fruit from different regions.
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