Sweet Temptation Ribs: Tamarind-Glazed Spare Ribs

  • Average Rating: (5 / 5)
  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 40m
  • Cook Time: 2:0 h
  • Ready In: 26:40 h

Why “Sweet Temptation”? Well, the day that I came up with these ribs, Bren happened to be abstaining from pork. Normally, his willpower is strong but ribs happen to be a real source of weakness for him. He couldn’t believe that the very first time I had made ribs at home would be on a day when he was abstaining from them. Later, as my friends and I chowed down on them, Bren couldn’t even watch us gnaw on ‘dem bones—he had to keep his eyes averted all the way through lunch!


  • RIBS:
  • Two 2-pound racks pork spare ribs
  • DRY RUB:
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Chile de Arbol, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • GLAZE:
  • 3 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Cracked Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Cup Minced Shallots
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 1/4 Cup Whiskey
  • 3 Tablespoons Sweet Soy or Kecap Manis
  • 2 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons Tamarind Paste


Step 1

For the ribs: The day before you want to eat the ribs, line a baking sheet with some heavy-duty aluminum foil, and set a cooling rack on the sheet. Wash the rib racks and then thoroughly pat them dry with paper towels and place them on the rack.

Step 2

For the dry rub: Set a small skillet (I used a cast iron one) over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds and chile if using. Toast the spices, shaking often, until the seeds darken a touch, release their aroma and smoke ever so slightly. Pour the seeds and chile into a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and grind until fine (break the chile up with your hands first if using a spice grinder). Add the paprika, salt and brown sugar, and stir to combine, smoothing out any lumps in the sugar.

Step 3

Sprinkle half of the rub over the ribs and massage into the meat evenly. Flip the ribs over and massage the remaining rub into the meat. Cover the ribs tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 4

For the glaze: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the peppercorns and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger. Cook until the shallots soften and turn slightly golden, about 5 minutes.

Step 5

Turn the heat off and add the whiskey. Turn the heat back on, and cook until the whiskey has mostly evaporated. Then add 1/2 cup water, the sweet soy, ketchup and tamarind. Stir together, and reduce the heat until the mixture is at a simmer. Cook until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Set aside until you're ready to use it.Sprinkle half of the rub over the ribs and massage into the meat evenly. Flip the ribs over and massage the remaining rub into the meat. Cover the ribs tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 6

When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pull the ribs out of the refrigerator and leave on the counter as the oven heats up. Then, remove the plastic wrap from the ribs. Roast the ribs until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours, rotating the pan halfway through to ensure even cooking.

Step 7

Pull the ribs out of the oven and turn it up to 425 degrees F. Brush the tamarind sauce liberally on both sides of the rib racks, and return the ribs to the oven for about 10 more minutes. Brush with sauce one more time and serve with plenty of napkins!

Step 8

Cook's Note: Tamarind paste, sweet soy sauce and kecap manis are available in the international aisle of better supermarkets, as well as in specialty Latin and Asian markets.

Recipe courtesy Aarti Sequeira

Aarti Sequeira’s new show, Taste In TranslationCooking Channel original series airs Friday nights at at 9:00PM ET / 6:00PM PT. On Taste In Translation, Aarti explores the most popular dishes from around the world as well as the history and cultural significance behind every bite. Each country has its own unique and delicious way to celebrate a holiday, commemorate a special moment, or even satisfy a ravenous craving. From the number one comfort food in America to the most popular first date dinner in Thailand, Aarti not only tastes her way from dish to dish but also discovers how they became iconic from both local cooks and culinary experts.

Watch Taste In Translation on the Cooking Channel Friday nights at at 9:00PM ET / 6:00PM PT.

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