These are superlative, indoor, make-ahead ribs that yield stunning results, if I must say so myself. You can season them up to 3 days ahead, and if you’d like, you can cover and chill them after steaming and broil them a couple of days later. If you love to grill, glaze and char (after steaming) over medium-high direct heat instead of using the broiler. To simplify the spice rub, omit the mustard powder, MSG, and coriander and leave the other measurements the same.
FOR THE RIBS AND THE GLAZE
1 rack pork spare ribs (4–5 lbs), 11–13 rib bones, trimmed, silver skin removed
1 tablespoon coriander seed, finely crushed
2 scant tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon MSG
2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon chile powder (Kashmiri)
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 whole star anise
3 bay leaves
1⁄2 cup cider vinegar, divided
FOR THE CELERY-HERB SALAD
1 celery bunch, thinly sliced (about 5cups)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup torn cilantro leaves and stems
1 cup torn mint leaves
Neutral oil, for drizzling
Cut ribs in half, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and season on both sides with spice mix, packing it on. Let sit at room temperature for 3 hours, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 72 hours.
Pour about an inch of water into a tall pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Drop in star anise and bay leaves, crushing as you go. Place ribs into pot upright, bending them to nestle into pot if necessary. Cover pot, lower heat to medium-low, and steam ribs for 30 minutes. Flip ribs top to bottom and add water if it’s getting low (it shouldn’t be, but check anyway!). Cover and continue steaming until rib meat is tender but not falling off the bone, 15–30 minutes more.
Transfer ribs to a rimmed baking sheet; rinse out pot. Strain cooking liquid into a 4-cup measuring cup (you’ll have approximately 3 cups of liquid). Add 1⁄4 cup vinegar and remaining tablespoon sugar to liquid, stir to combine, and return to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium- high until liquid has the consistency of a light syrup and has been reduced by 1⁄2, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining 1⁄4 cup vinegar, then taste glaze and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or more sugar, if desired.
Heat broiler with rack in second-highest position. Brush glaze liberally on underside (concave) sides of ribs. Broil, checking every minute, until glaze is bubbling, 2 minutes. Remove baking sheet, turn ribs over, and brush glaze onto top (meaty) side. Repeat broiling, turning, and brushing one more time on each side, at which point glaze should be caramelized and ribs should be very dark brown with some charred spots. Remove from oven and brush with any remaining glaze.
While ribs cool down a bit, make celery salad. Toss together celery, shallot, cilantro, and mint in a medium bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze in juice from both halves. Season with salt and toss to combine. Drizzle with a little oil and toss gently to coat.
Cut ribs between the bones into individual pieces and serve with celery salad on the side. Or, cut meat from ribs in big bite-size pieces and toss into salad to combine.
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