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Adlen Robinson: Traditional Baby Back Ribs or Korean style? It's up to you
Photo by Sean Stone on Unsplash

Who doesn’t love a good rack of baby back ribs? Still, unless you are cooking for a big crowd, you might not feel like using the smoker and monitoring it all day. Since we are empty-nesters, when we are craving ribs, I usually just cook them low and slow in the oven. Of course, I love the traditional baby back ribs with a spicy rub and barbeque sauce. We also love Korean ribs with spicy, sticky soy sauced based sauce.

When I make traditional ribs, I use an awesome rub and rub the ribs the night before we plan on cooking them. You can get rubs of all sorts at the grocery store, or you can check out the large variety Academy carries. Of course, you can also make your own. We wrap the ribs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate them. Don’t forget to remove the silver skin from the ribs. This is the membrane that usually covers the bone side of the ribs. It prevents seasonings and sauces from penetrating the ribs and can also leave a “leathery” skin on the ribs. Use a sharp paring knife and loosen the skin and then peel it off and discard it. Some butchers will do this for you and sometimes the skin has already been removed.

When we eat the traditional kind of ribs, we want all of the traditional sides—baked beans, coleslaw, deviled eggs, and cornbread.

When we make Korean style ribs, I like to mix up the marinade and marinate the ribs in the refrigerator overnight. I love serving them with fried rice or a noodle dish and kimchi. Let’s get cooking!


Traditional Baby Back Ribs

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs, silver skin removed and ribs cut to fit snugly in a baking dish

  • 2-3 tablespoons favorite barbecue rub

  • Favorite barbecue sauce with liquid smoke 

Remove the silver skin from the ribs and discard. Rub the ribs on both sides with a generous amount of your favorite rub. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200-degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Cover tightly with aluminum foil—I like to use two layers. Bake ribs for 5-6 hours until meat is falling off of the bone. Uncover ribs and slather with your favorite barbecue sauce and then broil until sauce is thick and shiny.


Barbecue Sauce

  • ½ tablespoon olive oil

  • ¼ cup red onion, minced

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • ½ teaspoon cumin

  • 1 8-ounce can tomato puree

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon molasses

  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 ½ teaspoon liquid smoke

  • A few dashes of hot sauce

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add tomato paste and cumin and cook another minute. Stir in tomato puree, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire, Dijon, salt, liquid smoke, hot sauce and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer 10 minutes until thickened. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin with a little water. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks or you can freeze it.


Korean Ribs

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs, silverskin removed

  • ½ cup soy sauce

  • ½ cup sugar

  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

  • 3 green onions, sliced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Combine soy sauce, sugar, onion powder, salt, pepper, green onions, garlic and sesame oil. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Place ribs in a zip lock back (I like to use the freezer kind) and pour marinade over all ribs. You may have to use several plastic bags. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place ribs and marinade in a baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place ribs in a preheated 200-degree oven for 5-6 hours. Remove aluminum foil and broil for a few minutes until glossy.