Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Hawaii. I alluded to this in my Papaya Boat breakfast post ages ago, but sometimes I forget how much it left an impression on my cooking.
Maui is incredibly popular with British Columbians since it’s a fairly short flight away and it’s pretty much paradise on earth. Most of the BC residents I know with places in Kihei, the suburb on Maui where my family’s retreat is located, bought them back in the 80s or early 90s, meaning we have been visiting for… oh my god, almost 30 years now. We’re not locals by any stretch, but we still know the island like the back of our hands.
Hawaiian cuisine is a beautiful tapestry of influences. Asian flavours from Korea, Japan, China, and the Philippines waltz with unique local produce, creating one-of-a-kind specialties like poke, spam musubi and loco moco. Toss in some Portuguese influence: sweet buns, malasadas. Then, mix it all up with traditional Hawaiian (pre-contact) foods like poi and kalua pork. It’s a beautiful thing.
Just writing about it pinches my heart (and stomach) to go back.
In Kihei, second home to many, many British Columbians, there was once a Korean restaurant named Azeka’s. Azeka’s made unbelievable ribs. These ribs were so good, they were enough to distract myself and my countrymen from the abundance of fresh local seafood delights- not a small feat, indeed.
Azeka’s ribs were legendary.
My parents, always keen on reverse engineering in the kitchen, took years- actual years– perfecting their own Azeka’s rib recipe. Sadly, the actual Azeka’s closed their doors a few years ago, but that just means we can be extra glad we have found a spot-on DIY alternative.
Growing up, we called these “Daddy’s Ribs” because they were my dad’s big project. I refuse to call them that here because, taken out of context, a grown woman using the term “Daddy” skeeves me out. Diff’rent strokes and all that, but I’ll admit it makes me pull a Liz Lemon badger-face.
In BC, these ribs are known locally as “Maui Ribs,” which I think is hilarious because if you asked a Maui local what “Maui Ribs” are they wouldn’t have a clue what you were talking about. So, it’s a tourist thing. It’s a BC tourist thing. I’m okay with that.
Secondly, marinate. I cannot stress this enough. Marinate overnight if you can. You will be impressed with the difference in the meat. After marinating for several hours, the marinade will seep into the thinner strips of meat- making it darker and almost candied looking. Once again, I’ve provided a photo above so you can track the process. It’s decadent.
Lastly, unlike some good slow cooked Southern Style ribs, I don’t serve these with mashed potatoes. No, in true Hawaiian form, this goes with rice. Rice and furikake, if you can get some (check your local Asian grocery stores). Furikake is another Hawaiian standard, a Japanese seaweed and sesame seasoning sprinkled on everything from rice to spam musubi to eggs. I put it on everything I can.
|Kalbi-Style Maui Ribs|| |
- 1 small thumb (~2 inches) ginger, peeled and grated
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 green onions
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ½ cup Mirin
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 kg flanken style short ribs
- Mix all marinade ingredients together in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 40 seconds on high (enough to warm through), and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Lay ribs in a marinating dish with a decent lip- there will be a fair amount of marinade for the ribs to soak in, but we want them to really bathe. Pour marinade over the ribs and shuffle to make sure all of them are fully coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight. If you can, rotate the ribs in the marinade again the morning.
- Cook ribs on the barbecue for 3-5 minutes a side- these are thin cuts so they will cook quickly. Serve immediately with a side of rice, veggies and furikake.