Growing up in South Korea, chef Sohui Kim never cared much for grilled pork ribs, which traditionally are cooked too quickly to render them tender.
“The adults would just gnaw on it because these people were starving during the war,” says Kim, owner of Korean barbecue spot Insa, in Brooklyn. “But in terms of cooking technique, why not get it super supple?”
In her case, she does. Her book, “Korean Home Cooking,” includes a recipe that combines an American technique—tenderizing ribs in the oven before saucing and searing them on the grill—with Korean flavors such as gochujang, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Slightly charred and meaty, her baby backs strike a delicious balance between spicy, sweet and tangy. It’s a combination and technique we loved. So we looked for ways to double down on her flavors. Slicing the membrane on the bony side of the ribs ensured thorough penetration of the spicy-sweet mixture of gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.
Wrapped in foil packets, the meat braised in the sauce and its own juices. After braising, the liquid that pooled in the foil packets was reduced in a skillet with more of the spicy sauce, which we then used to glaze the unwrapped ribs. To keep the recipe workable all year, we skipped the grill in favor of the broiler, which lightly chars the sauce.
Coated in a glaze full of concentrated pork flavor, the ribs were tender and seasoned throughout.