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Hoisinful Nine Dragon Chinese Ribs Recipe

Scallion and sesame seeds garnish ribs

In August 1972, I was 23 and a senior at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Don’t ask why it took me so long to get to be a senior. My best friend, Kurt Westfall, and I had just opened our first exhibit of photography, a two-man show, in Cedar Key, Florida. After the opening I felt like a rock star. I decided to go to the big city and make my fortune as an artist.

On the way back to Gainesville I picked up two hitchhikers who told me that they were making an unbelievable $3.75 an hour working on the assembly line at Ford’s Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan. I made a quick stop at my apartment, tossed my clothes and camera gear into the car, and drove them all the way to Detroit.

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When we got to Dearborn, wouldn’t you know it, the factories were all shut down to re-tool from one model year to the next, as was customary in August. They knew, but conveniently forgot to tell me.

After a few months I went to Chicago to see an exhibit of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago by my mentor and inspiration, Jerry N. Uelsmann. After one look at Chicago I decided not to go back to Detroit. Chicago was so much more beautiful and the arts and food communities were so much more vital (OK, Detroiters, send me your hate mail). I got a job at Foremost Liquors in Skokie and rented a room upstairs in a woman’s home.

A few days after I started work I stopped at a Chinese restaurant, the Nine Dragon Inn. It was opening night and I was their first customer. Over the next few months I ate there often. I even kept a case of white wine in their walk-in cooler because they had no liquor license, and I hung around the kitchen watching them cook. I took friends, customers, and even my future wife there on our first date. The owners’ two young girls, Jean and Ada, found endless fascination in my beard, and played under the table while I ate. They called me something like toy-ya-ya, which I thought was a term of endearment, but I later found out meant “smelly feet”.

I loved everything they made at Nine Dragon, but I especially loved their grilled ribs. I have tried Chinese ribs many times since, but never found a restaurant that made them the same way. The owners later moved to the west coast, and I have lost track of them. So I was forced to try to replicate their Asian-style ribs recipe, and I’ve come pretty close while also adding a BBQ element by finishing them on the grill. Sadly, I have never come close to the affection I had for Jean and Ada. Hopefully some day they will Google Nine Dragon Inn and find this article, and me.

Hoisin Ribs Recipe


Scallion and sesame seeds garnish ribs
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
4.36 from 48 votes
Experience awesome Asian-style ribs with this recipe for Hoisinful Nine Dragon Chinese Ribs. Based on an amazing dish from a now defunct Chicago Chinese restaurant, they used meaty baby back ribs marinated before being finished on the grill for a sweet and smoky blast of flavor. You can make this from any cut of ribs you want.

Course:
Dinner
,
Lunch
,
Main Course
Cuisine:
Asian
,
Chinese

Makes:

Servings: 3

Takes:

Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 slab ribs (any cut of ribs will do)
  • 1 cup of hoisinful marinade
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
Notes:
About the ribs. If you are using spare ribs or St. Louis Cut ribs, add a bit more rice vinegar or orange juice as needed to coat everything. They will take about 20% longer to cook.
 
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Separate the white part from the green part of the scallions and slice them thin cross-wise to make tiny rings. Make the marinade.
  • Soak the rack of ribs in the marinade in a large plastic zipper bag (you may have to cut the slabs in half) for a minimum of 3 hours or better still, all day or overnight.
  • Reserving the marinade, roast the ribs in a grill or smoker set up for 2-zone cooking using indirect heat or over a pan of water, at 225°F (107.2°C) for 5 hours. Skip the smoke. Let the marinade do the work. Paint both sides with the marinade every 30 minutes or so. You must stop painting about 30 minutes before serving to make sure the marinade does not contaminate the meat. During the last 30 minutes any bacteria that may be in the marinade will croak.
  • Place the slab meat side down over direct heat, grilling until it browns and sizzles. Watch it so it does not burn.
  • Remove from the grill and pour the honey lightly over the meat side and spread it around with a brush or spoon. Put it back on the direct zone, honey side down, for 5 minutes or until it bubbles. Don't let it burn.
  • Garnish with the scallions, orange zest, and sesame seeds. Cut into individual ribs and serve.

Indoor Method

  • Marinate as above.
  • Line a baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Place the ribs in the pan and bake on the middle shelf in an indoor oven at 225°F (107.2°C) for 5 hours, painting both sides with the marinade every 30 minutes or so. You must stop painting about 30 minutes before serving to make sure the marinade does not contaminate the meat. During the last 30 minutes any bacteria that may be in the marinade will croak.
  • Remove from the oven and pour the honey lightly over the meat side and spread it around with a brush or spoon. Switch the oven from bake to broil and put the meat back under the broiler for five minutes or until it bubbles.
  • Garnish with the scallions, orange zest, and sesame seeds. Cut into individual ribs and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 131mg | Sodium: 536mg | Potassium: 516mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 83IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2mg

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Published On: 4/12/2013 Last Modified: 10/23/2021

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