Japanese Spareribs

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Serve this casual meal to family or close friends: it involves messy eating-with-your-fingers. The pork ribs are so tender that using a knife and fork would be silly. Of course you know how much fun it is to slip an edamame pod between your teeth to extract the tasty peas…



The narrow door you see in some of my pictures is hiding a tiny broom closet. I love it: a miniature closet to hide a broom, brush, and dustpan, out of the way but ready to use! My worktable is usually blocking it, but it takes only a gentle pull to move it on its amazingly efficient castors. As you can see, I’ve set up an array of bottles, bowls, and pots to make the marinade for these delicious baby back ribs.
Japanese-Style Braised Spareribs
Supearibu no Nikomi

adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 437
serves 6

Marinate and Brown:

  • 4 ½ pounds pork spareribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 3 Tablespoon shoyu
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ Tablespoon toban jiang (Japanese chile-bean sauce)

  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • vegetable oil for browning the ribs

Marinate the ribs for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove ribs from marinade (discard the sauce). Heat a skillet, and add oil. Over medium heat, brown all sides of the ribs.

The Braise:

  • ½ cup saké
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar

  • 1 cup water

Combine the above in a large pot, and add the browned ribs. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, covered, over low heat for 30 minutes. An otoshi-buta is a wooden lid made of cypress which floats on simmering liquid. It keeps the solid food pushed below the broth, and it prevents the liquid for boiling away too quickly.

  • 4 Tablespoons Shoyu
  • 6 Tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar)

Add the above ingredients and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Turn or baste the ribs several times. When the meat is tender, you can let the ribs cool in the sauce and refrigerate to finish later in the day. If you hold the ribs for later, warm them gently in the sauce.

The Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1½ teaspoon white miso dissolved in mirin


Parboil the sweet potato until just barely tender. Slice into thick rounds. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and use a piece of kitchen towel to wipe on a thin coat of oil. Roast the potato at 350°F for about 20 minutes. Turn, and brush the slices with the miso. Roast another 15 minutes, then serve.

pic
Click on the thumbnails for previously published posts with other notes about this recipe.
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4 thoughts on “Japanese Spareribs

  1. Your kitchen is so well organized. The nice sunny color behind the broom closet is also a cheerfull surprise.

    Those look SO good! I could easily eat half that pan.

    • I believe the whole kitchen was once that color: The white painted cabinet doors (circa 1952??, the originals?) have chips where that yellow and a sick pastel green show. Yellow is not my favorite color so the kitchen must have been quite a sight back then! Overwhelmingly cheerful.

      But it is interesting that no one bothered to paint the inside of that funny miniature closet. It’s a detail of the kitchen that impressed me when we first looked at the house, that efficient use of the space between the wall studs, finished with molding that matches all the other doors in this house. Even the door itself is wood, framed and paneled.

  2. Pingback: Japanese Style Brisket | Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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