Asian Beef Ribs with Cucumber Sesame Salad
These Asian beef ribs start with a Chinese five-spice powder rub and are finished with a maple-soy sauce. Rich and meaty. And yes, finger licking good.
Did you know that Chinese five-spice powder doesn’t contain five spices? Well, sometimes it does. But it can contain as many as seven or even more.
So why is it called five-spice powder? The Chinese believe that there are five principle tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy/pungent. Five-spice powder is supposed to encompass these five tastes. The usual ingredients are cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, cloves, star anise and fennel seeds. But it can also contain anise seed, ginger root, nutmeg, tumeric, cardamom, licorice, black pepper, mandarin orange peel and/or galangal.*
Five spice powder is particularly good with fatty meats. It cuts through the fat but also enhances it and brings so much flavor with it.
These beef ribs are rubbed with a mixture that contains five-spice powder and then they’re slow roasted until the meat is so tender it nearly falls off the bone. But not quite. You need it to stay attached so you can grill it later.
Then the ribs are brushed with a maple-soy barbecue sauce. At this point you can cool them to grill later on (up to 24 hours later). Or you can put them on a hot grill to heat through and get some char.
To go alongside these ribs I wanted something to cut through all the rich sweet flavors. I therefore suggest this cucumber salad. It’s cucumbers, green onions and sesame seeds with a light dressing. And then you top it with something crispy. I give instructions below for frying your own wontons but you can use the crispy Chinese noodles from the grocery store to make it easier.
To go with this flavorful meal I’ve chosen a robust wine, the the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. With aromas and flavors of dark red fruits, this bold style Cabernet Sauvignon displays fruit complexity and structure – a wine that is perfectly paired with beef.
And now, here’s my Asian Beef Ribs recipe:
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable or grape seed oil
- 4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
- 1 and ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 and ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 5 lbs. beef ribs (about 12 ribs, do not cut apart the racks)
- ⅔ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
- ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- ⅓ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, grape seed oil, 5 spice powder, garlic powder, salt and red pepper flakes. Put the beef ribs on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Rub on both sides with the 5 spice mixture. Bake uncovered for 1 hour, meatiest side up. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for another 1.5 hours. Allow ribs to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan combine the maple syrup, ketchup, wine, soy sauce, mustard and butter. Cook stirring continuously over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in the lime juice.
- Cut the meat into individual ribs. Brush all over with the sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill (up to 24 hours).
- Prepare grill for medium direct heat cooking. Put ribs on grill. Cook, turning occasionally until meat is warmed through and has begun to char in places, 7-12 minutes.
And here’s the Cucumber and Sesame Salad Recipe:
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable or grape seed oil, plus more for frying the wontons
- ⅛ tsp. sesame oil
- ⅛ tsp. grated ginger
- 1-12inch English Cucumber
- ¼ cup spring onions, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
- 8 wonton wrappers
- Make the salad dressing by whisking together the lime juice, vegetable oil, sesame oil, ⅛ teaspoon of salt and the ginger in medium-sized bowl. Make sure that the ginger is well-dispersed.
- Cut the cucumber lengthwise into quarters and then slice into ¼ inch slices. Add the cucumbers to the dressing in the bowl along with the spring onions and the sesame seeds. Set aside.
- Line a large plate with kitchen towel. Set aside. Pour ¼ inch of oil into a large frying pan. Heat it over medium heat. While it warms, cut the wonton wrappers into ¼ inch slices. Toss them around to separate the strands.
- Dip one wonton strand in the heating oil. If it bubbles up immediately, the oil is ready. Add all of the wonton strands in a single layer. As they start browning use tongs to turn them and move them around a bit. As they brown, transfer them to the kitchen-towel-lined plate. It will take about 15-25 seconds total for them all to be ready. Sprinkle the crispy wontons with ⅛ teaspoon of salt.
- When ready to serve, put the wontons over the cucumber salad.