The smoky grilled flavor perfectly compliments the light lemony marinade paste used for this rib recipe. Enjoy these ribs year round by adding a touch of liquid smoke to the marinade and oven roasting.

The Ribs:
4 large stalks fresh lemon grass
5 pounds baby-back pork ribs, in slabs
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 shallots, minced
3 small fresh green chili peppers, seeded*
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 – 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke for oven cooked; omit for grill cooking

Basil Dipping Sauce:
2/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
6 cloves garlic
2 large chili peppers, seeded*

The Ribs
Wash the lemon grass and pound to lightly split the white bulb area. Mince the white bulb and tender part of the stalk; discard the green tops.

With a sharp knife, score the membrane on the bony side of the ribs to create a crosshatch pattern.

In a food processor fitted with a blade combine the lemon grass, garlic, shallots, chilies, vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar and salt. Process until to the consistency of a fine paste.

Place the ribs in a large glass, enamel or other non-reactive dish and spread the paste evenly over both sides of the ribs. Add any remaining paste to the ribs and cover with plastic wrap. Use heavy cans on top of the plastic wrap to flatten the ribs as they marinade. You can marinate overnight in the refrigerator or 4 – 6 hours at room temperature. If you marinate the ribs overnight, bring them back to room temperature before cooking.

Cook on a hot grill for approximately 45 minutes, turning often and basting with any remaining marinade.

Alternately, you can cook these in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500° and place the ribs on a rack over a roasting pan. Adding water to cover the bottom of the pan will prevent the initial juice and marinade drips from burning and smoking up your home. Turn the ribs occasionally and baste with any remaining paste. Cook for 40 – 50 minutes, until the ribs are cooked through and lightly charred.

To serve, cut the ribs apart and serve with the dipping sauce.

Basil Dipping Sauce:
Whisk together vinegar, corn syrup, fish sauce and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil; remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the garlic, chilies and sugar in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and process to create a paste. Add the cooled syrup to the paste and pulse to blend. Add the basil leaves and pulse until the leaves are minced.

*Peppers recommendations: For chile pepper flavor with very little heat try Ancho, Pasilla or Anaheim peppers. For a touch of heat try Jalapeno, Mirasol or Poblano. I like and recommend Seranno for this recipe, though children and those who don’t like spicy food may not find the results appealing.

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