Friday, April 24, 2009

Which Ribs Would You Rather Eat?

Most of the time the Kitchen Genius and I are on the same page in the same cookbook in the kitchen, but every so often he does something that simply makes me shake my head. This week it happened again when he brought home a jar of “authentic” Chinese barbecue sauce to make some Chinese ribs.

I’m not going to name the brand here because I’m afraid they’ll sue me if they happen to have a “Google Alert” out on their name brand and read what I have to say about this product. (I know - paranoid, right?)

The sauce was as thick as mucus and florescent pink. Here’s a list of the ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup water, salt, miso (water, fermented soybeans, rice & salt), modified corn starch, hydrolyzed corn protein, garlic powder and red (dye) # 3.

Is there anything in that list that sounds like real food? Like something you actually want to put in your body? Nope, me neither.

But KG dug in his heels and insisted that he wanted his ribs smeared with this viscous product. I let it go. He’s a big boy and I’m not the Food Police – plus we weren’t having the ribs until the following day.

The next day I was browsing through the May issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and came across a recipe for “Pulled Pork with Strawberry Barbecue Sauce.”

AHA – a (kind of) pink barbecue sauce that was all natural. Excited, I called KG and tried to lure him over to my recipe, instead of that offensive jar of goop that I desperately wanted to throw in the trash.

Nothing doing. He said strawberry barbecue sauce sounded gross. You know what that means, don’t you? Yep, a throw-down.

Our son Tommy thought it was a fun experiment and agreed to be the judge. Before the ribs went into the oven, his comments were that my sauce tasted really good, but the stuff in the jar looked like candy. Uh, oh…

I spread half the ribs with the Chinese barbecue sauce in one baking dish and half with the strawberry barbecue sauce in another, using spoons to spread them both evenly over the pork. Cue scary music here…

Two hours later when I went back in the kitchen to take the ribs out of the oven, I noticed that the stainless steel spoon I used to spread the Chinese sauce was actually tarnished BLACK. See for yourself:

It was so shocking that I showed the two spoons to Tommy.

“Do you really want to eat something that would do this to a spoon?” I asked. “Think about what this must do to your insides!” (Not that I was trying to sway the judge, because that would be just plain wrong – and ineffective. Tommy simply shrugged.)

Here's the candy covered meat:

Here's my 100% natural strawberry covered ribs:

The results: Our poor son is a very nice boy who loves his Mama. He hemmed and hawed and wouldn’t commit to a winner. “They’re both really good,” he said many times, before finally admitting he liked the ribs with the Chinese sauce “a little bit better.”

That’s what I get for letting a 13 year old be the judge. As quirky as it sounds, the strawberry barbecue sauce really was tasty (and the offending jar has disappeared forever).

So which would YOU rather eat?

Strawberry Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Serves 4

2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/8 cup cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 dashes hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Cook over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, until strawberries are softened. Mash strawberries with potato masher.

To make ribs:
8 country style meaty pork ribs

Line bottom of baking dish with aluminum foil. Place ribs in pan and smother with half of the barbecue sauce. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Remove ribs from pan and slather with remaining sauce. Cook on the grill for about 5 to 7 minutes until nicely charred.

For a printable recipe click here


Christo Gonzales said...

I pick the spoon tarnisher....LOL just kidding - the strawberry sauce sounds great - I wonder if it would be good as a general tsao's chicken sauce as well...

noble pig said...

Did you know Tang will also do that...but I think the strawberry sauce sounds like it rocks. I have, have to make it.

Alicia Foodycat said...

I also think strawberry sauce sounds weird - but then in the 80s I used to do a killer strawberry vinaigrette to serve with grilled veal kebabs. And anyway, it looks lovely and there is NO WAY I would put the other stuff on my food. KG might lose his Genius title if he pulls a trick like that again.

Debbie said...

I had picked "your" ribs before reading your post. I did ribs this past weekend too. With a rootbeer glaze... now that's weird! LOL

vanillasugarblog said...

ohhhh k, I am so making that sauce. you know my love for strawberries is endless. I've always wanted to make something with strawberries that isn't a pie, cookie or bar. This sounds good.
it rocks outside doesn't it? I'm getting my tan on girl!

Reeni said...

I can't believe it tarnished the spoon! EWWWWW!! The strawberry sauce sounds super yummy!! When I saw the pictures I picked yours before I knew what was going on.

Donna-FFW said...

Strawberry sauce all the way.. the spoon tarnishing frightens me:)

Michele said...

I'm with doggybloggy...I'll take the spoon tarnisher! I adore the stuff...goodness knows what it does to my digestive system, but I do love it. Your strawberry version looks wonderful as well. Please don't hate me for siding with Kitchen Genius. :)

Pumpkin said...

The jarred sauce does look like a melted Jolly Rancher. I try to avoid things like that- that are more science than food. I dunno, it does seem like if one were so inclined one could make Chinese spareribs with a more wholesome homemade sauce.
I would have definately picked the strawberry sauce!

Melissa said...

Came here from Casual Kitchen, though I've seen you around food blog land many times before...

I would easily pick your sauce. It looks far more appetizing and really for me it's the principle. I will not eat something entirely made of chemicals. EW. Ew ew ew.

NYgirl@heart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NYgirl@heart said...

I just bought large container of strawberries and was ecstatic to see this recipe. I think it looks fabulous and I've convinced the BF to try it this weekend. Thanks for passing it along!!

Sophie said...

I would definitely go for the strawberry barbecue sauce, love the color better too. Anything natural and homemade beats whatever spoon-tarnishing substance one might find in a jar :). Very neat throwdown though!

Bethany said...

If you want to make 'incredible Chinese spareribs' from scratch, check out the May 2008 issue of Saveur magazine. You can also google it (Saveur magazine Chinese spareribs)
They are soooooo good and if you skip the red food coloring, you will have a healthy version of the most amazing restaurant-style spareribs

carmel said...

i think the jarred stuff is char sui sauce... we have it here and it's tasty! but you can make your own version which tastes the same but is healthier.

Char Sui BBQ sauce
1/2 cup sherry
2/3 cup hoisin sauce
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons black bean paste
1 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler and simmer for 10 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.