Diatribe with Dave: A Ribs-Trader Joe’s Candied Ginger-Sambal Recipe!

Every second and fourth Wednesday night of the month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau hosts Dinner with Dave at Memphis at the Santora, where he treats drinkers to a free meal and live music as the evening progresses. To remind ustedes of this great night, Dave treats us every Wednesday morning that he’s on to a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

I like to think of summer as an opera with its various acts/actors plying its sun-soaked stage and it’s not over til the fat lady sings that last note of her final aria on the Tuesday after Labor Day. Even then, we in OC usually get a four-week encore, as our hottest months are often those that are considered something called “autumn” in other parts of the country. Grilling poolside at Casa de Mau is most definitely part of the seasonal program and that, like gravity itself, is a fact of life.

Recently three random events combined to make for an appealing addition to my grilling lexicon, so follow me here.


If you have ever had pantry moths lemme tell you, they are a pain in the ass. We had some settle like unwelcome guests in a couple boxes of cereal and they must have told their friends how much they liked it here ‘cuz they all moved in. I got a thorough debriefing from the all-knowing Le Femme Cassendre about how daunting getting rid of them was and was less than hopeful about the outcome but dove in anyway. Away I went, picking through all our old baking supplies, spices and dried goods, setting aside the stuff that was still good and tossing the anything that was even remotely suspect. In the “keepers” pile were a couple packages of candied ginger from Trader Joe’s that we bought awhile back. I set them aside, figuring I’d use and/or eat them later.

Fast forward a few weeks and guess what? It’s Memorial Day weekend! Guess what else? Wifey’s out of town visiting family in the Midwest! Oh, and did she look me straight in the eye before she left and make me swear to God I wasn’t gonna throw a pool party? Yes she did! So you know what that meant. Thus this grilling season’s cavatina commenced and the grand spectacle of summer 2013 began.

So while shopping for said festivities, lo and behold! Stater Brothers had an epic sale on ribs! I’m a big fan of Stater’s, and it’s not just the old-school vests and clerks in ties. They most assuredly have the best butcher departments around and the one at Chapman Avenue and Prospect is truly a meat case for the ages. And I’m also a big fan of pork ribs, as a little kid growing up in the 909, that sweet Chino corn went hand in and with ’em like, well, corn and ribs.

So while prepping the various dishes I would be making (and downing a few cold beers), I spied the bags of candied ginger and what little is left of my brain began to churn. Pork goes with ginger, right? It’s going to need some spice and I had some sambal oelek lying around. Garlic? Sure. Salt, sugar some olive oil and away I went. This glaze is a tangy blend of sweet and savory and I’ll be damned if those ribs didn’t disappear quick. It’s also a breeze to make so I thought I’d share this one. You’ll need-

3 full racks of baby back pork ribs

4oz Trader Joe’s candied ginger 4oz Sambal Oelek 3 tbls Lawry’s seasoned salt 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 1/2 cup olive oil 3/4 cup sugar 2 tsp kosher salt Pepper to taste

A side note; if you are going to make ribs at home do yourself a favor and head to Chef’s Toys or similar place and buy yourself a full 4-inch deep hotel pan. They fit in most contemporary home ovens just fine and they are much more convenient than using a regular baking dish.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Soak the ginger in 2 cups of hot water for 15 min; pour into a blender with all ingredients except sugar and puree. Put ribs in hotel pan and use mixture to coat thoroughly. Cover hotel pan with aluminum foil and seal tightly. This part is important-with JUST YOUR THUMB poke a hole in one corner of the foil. Why? Well, you want to keep the flavor in while managing to not turn the ribs into a gooey mass and this provides the perfect balance. Put in oven and cook for 2/12 hours. Drink more beer.

Remove pan form oven and place on bbq at low heat, turning every few minutes. Grab another beer and head back to the kitchen with hotel pan. Pour dripping from pan into a saucepan (scrape all that good stuff off the bottom) and boil down to reduce by half. Add sugar and puree again. Remove ribs from grill after 45 minutes or so and return them to hotel pan. Glaze ribs with sauce from pan and let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Welcome, summer! It’s going to fly by fast so make the most of it, and this little dish will be a hit, poolside or not.

Follow @ocweeklyfood on Instagram! And check out Dave’s podcasts: Memphis Mondays and Fat Drunk And Happy!


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