We had two slabs of Danish baby back ribs, and my husband wanted to put them on the smoker, which is what usually happens when we have ribs, but I wanted something different. I had a small container of mango juice that was sitting on the shelf, and this was an opportunity to use it.
I made a braising liquid for the ribs using the mango juice, some tamarind pulp and a few other pantry ingredients. The ribs were smothered in this sauce and cooked for a few hours in the oven until they were literally falling off the bone. A hit all around, and one to make again!
In the blender, combine:
1 cup mango juice
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Blend until you have a reasonably smooth liquid. Cut two racks of baby back ribs into sections of 3 to 4 ribs each; this makes serving a whole lot easier.
Place the ribs into an ovenproof dish large enough to hold them in one layer.
Pour the sauce over the ribs.
Gently turn the ribs, making sure that they are well coated with the sauce on all sides.
Spread them out into a single layer again.
Cover the dish with foil and place into a 325F oven.
Bake for 2 - 3 hours. Check to see how tender the meat is, placing the ribs back into the oven, covered, to cook for longer if necessary. When the meat is tender, and almost falling off the bone, remove the foil and place back into the oven to crisp up a bit.
I served the ribs with coconut rice, and fresh asparagus. The remaining sauce was drizzled over the ribs and rice. Have a lot of napkins ready, and don't be afraid to use your fingers and make a mess!
- Even though there is a fair amount of sugar in this sauce, between the mango juice and the hoisin sauce, the sweetness is well balanced by the salty soy sauce, the acidic vinegar and the citrusy tamarind.
- Any type of tropical juice can be used...guava, papaya, passionfruit, pineapple. A blend of juices can also be used.
- I had finished my tamarind concentrate and when I went to buy more, the store I was at only had tamarind pulp in stock. If you use pulp, make sure there are no seeds or pieces of pod in it before blending it. If you use concentrate then you can use half the amount of tamarind called for in the recipe. You will also have a smoother sauce, and it can be whisked together by hand instead of blended.
- Tamarind pulp can be stored well wrapped at room temperature, in the fridge or in the freezer. Tamarind concentrate should be stored in the fridge once it has been opened. It lasts indefinitely.
- I prefer to use tamari soy sauce, as I find the flavour more pleasing. It has been aged, or fermented, and tends to have a softer, less salty taste. It is also often gluten free, whereas regular soy sauce often contains gluten.
- Sambal oelek can be used instead of sriracha; crushed dried chilies can also be used. The amount of heat in your sauce depends on what you like, so adjust it accordingly.
- The cinnamon adds a bit of sweetness to the sauce. Other spices that would work well are Chinese five spice or star anise.
- If you like a lot of sauce with your rice, double the recipe.
- The ribs can be marinated overnight in the sauce, before baking them. If you choose to do this, make sure that any marinade gets well cooked before being used as a sauce....either in the oven with the ribs, or brought to a boil in a pot.
- Once the meat is tender, the ribs can be finished off on the barbecue. Save the sauce and use it to baste them as they finish cooking.
- If you happen to have leftovers, pull the meat off the bones and use it to stuff wraps, to top pizza or to make stirfried rice or noodles.
- I used baby back ribs, but any type of rib can be used. If you choose to use country style ribs, I recommend marinating them overnight as there is a lot more meat that needs tenderizing.