Fiery Sulawesi pork ribs

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This Indonesian pork rib recipe sees racks slathered in a fiery marinade before being slow-roasted and finished on the barbecue (or in a smoking hot griddle pan). With a tart, sweet and hot dipping sauce on the side, it's a guaranteed crowdpleaser.

This recipe is taken from Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia by Eleanor Ford (£25, Murdoch). Photography by Kristin Perers.

First published in 2020

If you like your food fiery, Mandano in northern Sulawesi is the place for you. Here fragrant spices and heavy use of chilli typify the food for heat that hits you with shouts, not whispers. As many Minahasan people are Christian (alongside a common persuasion towards blood magic), halal dietary restrictions have not shaped the cuisine. This means bush meats from rats and bats to wild boar and python fill the butchers’ markets. A little less exotic, these succulent barbecued pork ribs make a particularly good carrier for the big flavours.




Bumbu spice paste

Dabu dabu dipping sauce


Roughly chop the ingredients for the bumbu, then blend to a paste in a food processor. Add a little water to help it come together, if needed. Season generously with salt and black pepper
Use a small knife to remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. Smear half the bumbu into the ribs and lay them in a shallow oven dish. Cover tightly with foil and leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours
Preheat an oven to 150°C/gas mark 2. Roast the ribs, still covered with the foil, for 2½ hours. Baste once or twice during cooking. The fat should have melted leaving the meat very tender
Meanwhile make the dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients and taste for heat, sweetness and tang
Heat a barbecue, grill or griddle pan until very hot. Grill the ribs on both sides until they start to char and caramelise, then smear over the remaining bumbu. Continue grilling until the sauce is dry and fragrant. Eat with your fingers, dipping into the dabu dabu as you go

Eleanor Ford is an award-winning author writing about food and travel.

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