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Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's is the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $269 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.

char siu ribs

Chinatown Char Siu Ribs Or Pork Taste Great Cooked Indoors Or Out

"You eat first with your eyes" Ancient Chinese Proverb

By Meathead Goldwyn

I love the "barbecued" pork and ribs in Chinatown. They have a distinct pork flavor, a glossy sheen that implies the sweet glaze beneath, and a glowing red-pink color that penetrates the surface.

Unlike traditional Southern American low and slow smoke roasted barbecue ribs, there is no smoke flavor, even though there is a pink ring beneath the surface of the meat. How do they do it?

Well, it turns out that Char Siu, even though it sounds like charcoal, is not grilled or smoked. It is roasted in a special oven, usually gas fired. And most of the time it gets its ruddy tone from red food coloring (some chefs use a red bean paste, or beets, but that's not common).

But it still tastes great. You can buy Char Siu sauce in Chinese specialty stores, but it is thick and gooey. It makes a fine glaze, but it doesn't make ribs that taste like Chinese restaurant ribs. That's because you need to marinate the meat first. I've worked on this recipe for a while and I think I've really nailed the technique for making Chinatown Char Siu Ribs at home in the oven or on the grill. Here's how to do this dizzingly delicious favorite.

This marinade is especially good on pork, but I used it on chicken, turkey, and duck with great success.

chines barbecue pork

Recipe

Serves. 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes to make the marinade, 1 to 12 hours to marinate
Cooking time. About 3 hours

The meat
Ribs: 2 slabs of baby back ribs, cut into individual bones
or
Pork: 4 pounds pork loin cut into strips across the grain, about 1" wide, 2" tall

The marinade
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup brandy (or rum or bourbon)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons hot sauce such as Tabasco
2 tablespoons powdered ginger
2 tablespoons powdered onion
1 tablespoon powdered garlic
1 tablespoon five spice powder
1 teaspoon red food coloring

About the ribs. Many Chinese restaurants use spareribs that are chopped into 3-4" riblets with a cleaver. If you want, your butcher can make you riblets with her band saw. If not, you can do them whole. I like baby backs for this recipe because they are meathier on top of the bone.

About the Chinese ingredients. There are no substitutes for hoisin sauce, five spice powder, or sesame oil. They are responsible for most of what we think of as the flavor of Chinese food in the US. Five spice powder is easy to make at home (click the link above for my recipe), but the others are not easily made. Click on the links for more info on these ingredients. If you have trouble finding them in your grocery store, try Amazon.com.

About the hot sauce. If you have an Asian-style chili sauce you can use it, but any old hot sauce will work fine in this marinade since it provides more heat than flavor. The recipe above produces mild heat. Add more if you love pain.

About the food coloring. Food coloring is necessary for the authentic color. I am told by readers that you can substitute beet root powder for the red food coloring or fermented bean red curd, but I've never tried them. There is very little used in this recipe and most is discarded with the unused marinade. There are natural food colorings made from achiote and its seeds annato, or cochineal (a.k.a. carmine), an insect. If you want to leave it out, the food will still be great, but it won't have the traditional festive color.

Serve with. The classic accompaniments are Chinese beer or jasmine tea. If you can find it, try hibiscus tea or Pinot Grigio from Oregon (most of the California Pinot Grigios are borrrrring).

Optional. After about 2 1/2 hours, paint the meat with a glaze of honey and roast an additional 30 minutes. Then garnish with sesame seeds or chopped chives or chopped green onions.

Method
1) Mix the marinade thoroughly in a bowl. Don't skip the booze. It helps penetrate, and even if you're a teetotaler, don't worry, there isn't any measurable alcohol in the meat. Yes, I know alcohol can dry meat out, but I just think it works well in this case. If you must skip it, use apple juice or water, but booze is better. You can substitute fresh ginger and garlic for powdered ginger and garlic if you wish.

char siu ribs

2) Marinate the meat for at least 1 hour in a metal bowl or zipper bags. Overnight is better. Discard the used marinade. It is contaminated with meat juice. Don't marinate in a plastic bowl. The coloring might stain it.

3) As much as I am a fan of outdoor cooking, this meat also tastes great cooked in an indoor oven. Either way, heat your grill or oven to about 225°F. If you are grilling, set up in a 2-zone or Indirect system. Make sure the meat is not directly over the flame on a grill. If necessary, put a pan of water with a rack on top of it under the meat. Indoors, this is important or drippings will burn in the pan. Roast ribs for about 3 hours, loin strips for about 1 1/2 hours. Garnish with sesame seeds or chopped chives or chopped green onions.

This page was revised 2/17/2010


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About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, edited by Meathead.

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