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Sticky Tamarind Ribs

by Nathaniel Smith from Flayvaful (Murdoch Books)

Photography: Steven Joyce

THESE STICKY TAMARIND RIBS WILL LIGHT UP YOUR TASTE BUDS. From the sticky, slide-off-the-bone tender meat, the first bite will have you speechless, because I know I was, and you’ll be left craving more.

The tangy tamarind in this sweet glaze is just so moreish. The meat is cooked to pure perfection, so it slides off the bone with barely any work. This dish is a perfect choice for any occasion, whether you’re entertaining guests or just want to indulge in a delicious meal at home. And you know what I really love about this one? It’s completely oven-friendly and foolproof. Get ready to DEVOUR these rich, mouthwatering flayvas, which will leave you wanting more with each bite.




1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) baby back pork rib rack

½ teaspoon liquid smoke ((Nigel used Halen Môn Smoked Water)

2–3 teaspoons yellow mustard

1½ teaspoons onion powder

1½ teaspoons garlic powder

1½ teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground allspice

5 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes

5 tablespoons light soft brown sugar

5 tablespoons honey

60 ml (4 tablespoons) Jamaican lager

salt and pepper

sliced spring onion (scallion), to garnish


Tamarind sauce

150 g (5½ oz) orange blossom or regular honey

50 ml (3½ tablespoons) spiced rum

60 g (2¼ oz) ketchup

1½ tablespoons tamarind concentrate, extract or paste

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium light soy sauce

¼ Scotch bonnet pepper, minced


1  Preheat the oven to 140°C fan (325°F/Gas mark 3).


2  Pat your ribs dry, then carefully remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Trim any little bits around the edges that are scraggly because they’ll burn anyway. Use kitchen paper for extra grip when removing the membrane. Then add the liquid smoke and mustard and rub in – this is your binder which helps your seasoning stick. Season generously with salt on both sides and a little pepper.


3  Season with the onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and allspice. Some ribs have a greater surface area than others and you want the ribs to be coated in a layer of seasoning, so if it’s looking a lil sparse, add more seasoning until evenly coated, but don’t go too crazy on the salt as the tamarind sauce is seasoned.


4  Place the ribs on a wire rack, lined with foil (saves you cleaning), then into the oven for 2½ hours.


5  Now make a foil boat, just a little larger than your ribs, and add half the butter, sugar and honey, in the same shape as your ribs.


6  Remove the ribs from the oven and place so the top is now directly on top of the brown sugar mixture. Add the remaining butter, sugar and honey to the ribs. Carefully pour the Jamaican lager into your foil boat but not directly onto the meat. This is going to steam the ribs and get them nice and soft! Carefully seal and wrap tight, then place back into the oven for 45 minutes–1 hour, or until fork tender.


7  Now, using a stick blender or food processor, combine all the tamarind sauce ingredients. Blitz until smooth, then gently heat over medium heat until the sauce is warm.


8  Remove the ribs from the oven, open the foil and carefully drain any juices that remain into the tamarind sauce. Whack up the oven temperature to 200°C fan (425°F/Gas mark 7), carefully coat both sides of the ribs in the tamarind sauce and transfer the ribs back to the wire rack. Ensure the ribs are generously glazed with the tamarind sauce. If the ribs are super tender, carefully drain the juices, place a tray on top and flip the rack so it’s top-side up again, then glaze generously with tamarind sauce.


9  Roast for 5–10 minutes, or until nice and sticky. Then allow the ribs to rest for 10–15 minutes before tucking in. It’s easier to slice the ribs bone-side up for a nice slice, then garnish with spring onion.

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