I am my mother’s child. If I see that something is on special at the grocery store, I go buy three and shove them in the freezer. What this means is I currently have beautiful salmon steaks in my freezer, and I don’t really eat salmon. I also had four beautiful racks of ribs sitting in my freezer, taking up a lot of space.

Just recently though, we had sort of done a barbecue chicken wing recipe, and I didn’t want to use the same sort of dry rub for my ribs. I wanted a different flavor. Us southern girls just love our barbecue, but we like a little variety in our lives too!

As I was looking through cookbooks for something different to do with a rack of pork ribs, I came across a back issue of Bon Appetit that my mother sent back with me when I was in Raleigh.

I had not seen the online copy, though now that I read it, a lot of the reviewers seem to echo my feeling upon reading the original recipe. Fish sauce is an incredibly salty ingredient, and lime hits a lot of the same notes on the tongue as salt does, so I opted to remove the fish sauce entirely, and increased the honey and light sodium soy sauce by one tablespoon each to compensate for removing the liquid from the marinade.

It came out really well, and Walker and I both couldn’t stop licking our fingers. Instead of a dipping sauce, I opted to squeeze the fresh lime over top the ribs after pulling them from the grill and sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper too. The flavors were very unexpected with the ribs, because we’re both used to the sticky sweet versions of a barbecue, but the surprising flavor was very fresh and definitely something that I’ll be doing again, and on different types of meat. It was fantastic, and I think this marinade would be great for chicken wings too.

Cambodian Ginger and Honey Baby Back Ribs
Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2009
Serves 6

2 2 1/2 pound baby back pork rib racks, cut into 6-7 rib sections (Ask the butcher to remove the papery membrane from the underside of the ribs, so prep will be easier for you)
1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use light sodium)
6 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
6 teaspoons ground white pepper, divided
3 large limes, halved


1. Place rib racks on work surface. Using small sharp knife, carefully pry papery membrane off underside of each rib section or ask your butcher to remove it for you. Place ribs on large rimmed baking sheet.

2. Combine ginger, garlic, sugar, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, and black pepper in blender and puree. (Alternately, just grate the ginger, and smash the garlic cloves, and let marinate a little longer.) Add honey and soy sauce and process until blended. Spread spiced marinade on both sides of ribs (about 2 tablespoons marinade per side for each rib section). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. You can let this sit over night or during the day while you’re at work in an airtight plastic bag instead, whatever is convenient.

3. Make dipping sauce: place each of 6 very small bowls on each of 6 small plates. Place 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon ground white pepper in neat mounds side by side in each bowl, then place 1 lime half on plate next to each bowl.

4. Spray grill rack with nonstick spray. Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Spoon any juices from baking sheet with ribs over ribs before grilling. Place rib racks, rounded (meaty) side down, on grill rack. Grill ribs, uncovered, 8 minutes per side, then cover barbecue and grill until ribs are cooked through, about 8 minutes longer per side. Alternately, you can bake the ribs at 150C for 45 minutes, and then finish on a grill pan, if you would like to avoid grilling outdoors.

5. Transfer ribs to cutting board. Cut between bones into individual ribs. Serve with dipping sauce, adding lime to it as each person wants.