Enjoy this Hawaiian twist on a summer favorite for just $4.70 per person.
My wife, the lovely Jodie Younse, largely hails from Hawaii. Her mother’s family is Portuguese that spent a generation in Hawaii before moving to the mainland in California, and her father’s family is Chinese Hawaiian who mostly still live on the islands. He did a fair bit of growing up there himself.
She is what they would call a Hapa Haole (a half foreigner) I, however, am full Haole. And probably even more than that seeing as how pale I am. I have, however been privileged enough to be able to attend several of Jodie’s family reunions. So, I feel I have been able to not only see the beauty of the islands, but also of the local traditions.
If you do spend any amount of time in Hawaii, you will find a very distinct food culture, not known to anywhere else in the world. And I don’t just mean teriyaki sauce and poi. There are also many other small differences. McDonald’s serves spam masubi, haupia pies, saimin noodles, and Portuguese sausage. The hot dogs in Hawaii are pink, whole pigs are roasted under the ground, and ahi poke and lomi lomi salmon are their unique raw fish appetizers. The unique blend of cultural influences on Hawaii has produced significantly unique food. They have combined the best parts of Chinese, Japanese, Polynesian, Portuguese, and American foods.
A great example of this fusion is their style of BBQ sauce, which is just as original as anything you’ll find in Kansas or St. Louis. It has all the same ingredients as your basic BBQ sauce, with the addition of brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, and ginger. And, did I mention that it’s delicious on spareribs?
Around memorial day, I found some frozen ribs at a ridiculously low price, bought them and have been storing them in my freezer. Recently, I took them out, defrosted them, and cooked ‘em up. I actually prefer spareribs to baby back ribs, myself, but there is a trick to it. Both ribs need low and slow heat for a long time, but where baby back ribs tend to fall apart with less time, the spareribs really need to be treated to a good three to four hours in the oven or grill (closer to four if you can manage it.) It is an all-day process to do it right. You don’t need to babysit the ribs once they are cooking, but you need to make sure you don’t leave the house with your oven on.
While the ribs cook in the oven with a dry rub, you have plenty of time to make the BBQ sauce. Since the BBQ sauce saves well, I prefer to make a large batch at a time and save the rest for later. For the purposes of accounting, I have added up the total cost of the BBQ sauce, but only added half the cost into this particular meal (and you will use much less than half.)
I rounded the feast out with a salad I bought, two for one, and Trader Joe’s version of tater tots. (Hey, I like tater tots. Do I always have to be gourmet? Tater tots is delicious.)
Oven Roasted Spareribs
1 rack spareribs (baby back will also do)
½ cup chili powder
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup table salt (I use fresh cracked sea salt, so I need to reduce this to 2 Tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Using kitchen shears, cut the ribs into desired portions, ½ to 1/3 of a rack. Rub the ribs with dry rub and a little olive oil. Let stand for one hour.
- Place the ribs in a roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast for three to four hours.
- Preheat the grill. Remove the ribs from the oven and place on the grill starting with the meaty side down. Brush with BBQ sauce (in this case the Hawaiian BBQ sauce, recipe below.) Cook for five minutes, flip, brush with more BBQ sauce, and cook for five more minutes. This is mostly to get the ribs that cooked-on-the-fire taste. Alternatively, you could preheat the broiler and finish the ribs off similarly that way.
Hawaiian BBQ Sauce
1 32 oz can tomato puree (I prefer to start from scratch so that I can adjust the flavors to my liking. You may substitute ketchup for the tomato puree and corn syrup in this recipe. You’ll also need to reduce the vinegar by at least half. Make sure to taste as you go.)
1 cup corn syrup
½ cup white vinegar (white wine or apple cider will work as well, whatever you have on hand.)
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 eight ounce can sliced pineapple in juice (or ¼ cup pineapple juice)
ginger to taste (grated fresh or frozen preferred, but ground can be substituted.)
2 teaspoons sambal olek (Optional. Sriracha or other chili sauce will also do. Add to taste, if you want a spicier BBQ sauce. These sauces are well explained here.)
- Combine the tomato puree, corn syrup, and vinegar in a large saucepot. Stir, bring to a simmer, and taste. The sauce should taste very similar to ketchup at this point. It may be a bit thinner, but the sauce will thicken as it simmers. Adjust flavors as desired.
- Add the Worcestershire, brown sugar, soy sauce, juice from the pineapple can (reserve the actual pinapple,) ginger, and sambal olek (or other chili sauce.)
- Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes up to an hour.