Mapo-gu in Seoul, Korea, is known for its hip vibe with quirky boutiques and late-night restaurants serving Korean BBQ with beer. Relaxed rooftop bars overlook Hongik Park’s hangout, while jazz bars and live music venues in the area have an offbeat feel. Mapo is also a popular spicey Chinese dish made with tofu and braised in a spicy chili bean paste-based sauce. It originated from the Sichuan province known to have cuisine with striking bold flavors — full of spice. Mapo tofu is also a popular menu item at Chinese restaurants in Korea! I love Korean BBQ and think this is a perfect combination of balancing the sweet BBQ of Korea and the bold spiciness from my other favorite cuisine -China’s Sichuan province.
You’ll Need :
For the Ribs
2 racks pork ribs
Salt and pepper
8 scallions, cut in 1-inch diagonal pieces
Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Mapo style marinade recipe (see below)
For The Mapo Style Marinade
3/4 cup Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
1 to 3 teaspoons Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 cup beef or chicken stock
1/4 cup rice wine or water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons honey
2-3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
8-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and root removed
2-3 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 medium white onion, root removed, peeled, and quartered
1 medium Asian pear peeled, cored, and cubed
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons corn or potato starch
Usually, ribs come vacuum-packed and can be sitting in liquid that you want to wash away. Run under cold water, pat dry, then peel off the shiny, white piece of membrane that sits on top of the bones. Cut each slab into two parts for more manageable handling. Salt and pepper generously on both sides, cover, and set aside.
In the bowl of your food processor, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Blitz until liquified and fragrant. Remove to a medium-sized saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool—reserve 1 cup of the marinade in a sealed container for finishing at the grill. Cover and place it in the cooler.
Coat the ribs generously with the remaining marinade, rest covered in the cooler for a minimum of eight to twenty-four hours, turning them over mid-way. If you have access to a vacuum sealer, this is a perfect time to use it.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325’F degrees. Remove the ribs from the marinade and discard any leftover liquid. Place ribs on a lined high-sided baking sheet and cover with foil. Cook the ribs for about 90-120 minutes, turning over midway. Remove the foil tenting for the last 10 minutes of bake time. Once the foil tent is removed, this is your cue to fire up the outdoor grill, clean oil up to its rack.
Remove the ribs from the oven, transfer them to the preheated grill, and continue cooking over direct heat for about 8-10 minutes or until the ribs are slightly sticky, caramelized, and charred. Continue to turn and baste both sides with the reserved jarred marinade during the last 10 minutes of grilling. Slightly oil the pear halves and on the hot side of the grill for the last 3-5 minutes before completing the ribs.
Remove the ribs from the grill, sprinkle with sesame seeds, sliced green onions, and cilantro. Cut the grilled pears into wedges and serve warm with the ribs.
Note: Never reuse the marinade once it has been sitting with raw meat; if there is any leftover, discard it.