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Idle-Weekday Tamarind Marinade For Pork

Idle-Weekday Tamarind Marinade For Pork
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

You don't have to use the chile, but it's so good. Ancho or pasilla chiles also work well. If you have tamarind paste instead of tamarind concentrate, soak a 1-inch-square chunk of paste in enough boiling water to cover. After it has softened (about 15 minutes), massage the paste with your fingers and discard the hard, wood-like seeds. Use the remaining pulp. If it has dissolved into a thick liquid, just discard the seeds and use the liquid.

Makes 4 to 6 servings, 1 recipe's worth of marinade. Can be doubled, tripled, etc.

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2-inch knob ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 dried chipotle chile, or 1 canned chipotle en adobo

1/3 cup lime juice

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 racks baby back ribs, each cut in half

If using the dried chipotle, soak in very hot or boiling water for 15 minutes. Chop off and discard the stem end, discard the soaking water and rinse out any seeds.

Drop the garlic, ginger and chipotle into the jar of a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Add the lime juice and blend until you have a loose paste. Add the remaining ingredients and blend briefly. Place the marinade into a gallon-size, zip-top freezer bag, and then add the meat. (You should just be able to fit the 4 half-racks of ribs in the bag.)

Zip it shut, squeezing out as much air as possible. Massage the bag briefly to distribute the marinade evenly over the meat. Marinate at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Preheat the grill until very hot. If using gas, heat only one side of the burners. If using charcoal, place the charcoals all to one side. Lift the slabs of ribs out of the marinade and place them on the unheated side of the grill. Cover, with the lid vent one-quarter of the way open, and cook for 10 minutes. Baste, turn and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes.

Remove grill cover, baste again and start searing one or two slabs at a time on the hot side of the grill, turning and basting periodically. (Leave the slabs you're not working with on the unheated side of the grill.) If flames start to flare up, pull the ribs back to the unheated side of the grill to keep them from blackening. You should be able to achieve a nice crust on all 4 slabs within about 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Note: If you use spare ribs or St.-Louis-style (trimmed spare ribs), double the covered cooking time.

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