Do you have these moments when you're cooking, where complete insecurity washes over you? When, although you are an able cook, you have nagging questions at every step of a recipe?
I hate those moments. I feel so pathetic.
The other night I was planning to prepare another one of the easiest recipes I know, and I was so full of doubt that I had to call my mother four times with questions, and my sister, once. Maybe it's because Mexican spareribs and salsa fria are something they typically serve. Maybe I was just having an off day. Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to chat with them again that day (usually the case).
In any event, you'll be laughing when you see what a cinch this recipe is.
It was weird behavior, although not totally out of the ordinary for me. Without too much shame, I'll admit that every time I cook a tri-tip, I call my mom to confirm the temperature of the oven, the cooking time, and the internal temperature for medium rare.
What is wrong with me?
Yes, I hear you Mo. Where do I start?
I've mentioned before how terrific, Craig Claiborne's The New York Times International Cookbook is. Published in 1971 and organized by country, this cookbook helped to bring international cooking to the United States.
The recipes are still delicious, although some of the techniques may not be as authentic as we'd see in ethnic cookbooks published today. We keep advancing, thank goodness!
So whether these spareribs are authentically Mexican, I cannot say for certain. I do feel very confident stating that they are incredibly tasty and a snap to prepare, as is the salsa fria.
Some may turn up their noses at the use of canned tomatoes in this salsa, but don't be one of them! You simply toss all the ingredients into the food processor and give it a whiz. I recommend adding a handful or two of chopped cilantro to give the salsa an even brighter flavor. This salsa fria is as good on chips and tacos as it is on these ribs.
Fe and I were just out of town visiting, my wonderful Mother-in-law, Dolly, in Washington state. We left poor A. at home, as sick as a dog. He devoured the remaining salsa fria, quipping that the delicious gazpacho in the refrigerator was what was helping to cure him!
So, what's your stance on MSG?
The Mexican spareribs recipe calls for it. Monosodium glutamate is one of the four ingredients. The three others being salt, pepper, and spareribs. My feeling is that the pinch of MSG can easily be eliminated.
I'll confess that I did use the Japanese Aji-Shio (essentially MSG coated salt) to season the ribs. Does this make me a horrible person, a cheater, a fake? Probably not.
All you do to the ribs, besides seasoning them, is bake them for one and a half to two hours at 300 degrees. Right? So simple. They taste like pure, salty pork pleasure.
I like to serve these ribs with some kind of white rice, usually basmati or jasmine and a vegetable or salad. This last time around, I served it with wilted escarole with garlic and anchovy.
Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
I'd be curious to know what you folks think. Please chime in!
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of monosodium glutamate
2 to 3 pounds spareribs
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Combine the salt, pepper, and monosodium glutamate in a bowl. Mix well and rub all over the ribs.
Place the ribs in a baking pan with a rim and bake one and a half to two hours. Pour off the fat as it accumulates. Cut into individual ribs. Serve with salsa fria.
Serves 4 to 6
1 28 ounce can solid-pack tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
4 jalapenos or serrano chiles, chopped (or more depending on your heat tolerance)
1 teaspoon coriander, or to taste
1 clove garlic chopped with 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pour the tomatoes into a mixing bowl and chop fine. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Alternatively, place all ingredients in a food processor and purée until chunky. Serve cold as a dip for spareribs.
About 2 1/2 cups