Sous Vide: Pork Spare Ribs, Star Anise Rub, Dark Side Butter

Anise, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Tamarind provide identity for this Asian/Tandoori influenced dish. An emulsified tamarind sauce westernizes!

sous vide sous b q


Pork spareribs, 1 side, approximately 4 lb/3.5 Kg
Egg white, one each.
Flour, as needed
Kosher salt, approximately 3 Tablespoons.
Parsley, dried.

Dark Side Sauce, 4 oz./120 ml.
Butter, cold, 4 oz./120 g.

Star Anise Rub
Combine equal volumes of the following spices, in the amount of:
one tablespoon each:

Star Anise Powder,
Fennel Seeds,
Ginger, powdered,

Fusilli Salad:
Fusilli pasta, dried, 6 oz./180 g.
Carrot, 1 each, peeled and cut julienne.
Cucumber, .5 each, cut julienne.
Radishes, sliced, 2 oz/60 g.
Heirloom tomato, small, cut into bite size.
Assorted Nicoise and dried olives, 1 oz./30 g.
Extra virgin olive oil, 5 oz./150 ml.
Lemon Juice, 2 oz./60 ml.
Salt, pepper, and dried parsley to preference.

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Flat bottomed skillet, approximately 12″/30 cm. and 3″/90 mm deep.
Sauce pot, 2 qt/2 L.
Kitchen tongs.
Flour shaker.
Infrared or probe thermometer.


This microcosmic example of culinary globalism is echoed in the eons long popularity of ginger and cinnamon in (Euro) continental cuisines. All of these spices originated much farther east, of course. Even so, they evoke a somewhat exotic sensibility when substituted for the paprika/garlic laden rubs used on Spare Ribs in the New World.

Tamarind is also a well kept flavor secret in the states, despite the fact that it is a major taste component of Worcestershire Sauce, A-1/57 Steak Sauces, and even Coke/Pepsi. We use tamarind in our proprietary Dark Side Barbecue Sauce, which has become a recipe favorite of late.

Serves 4
Level of difficulty 2


Sous vide process the ribs @
140 F/60 C X 24 hours,

cold shock to 70 F/21 C in ice water and refrigerate @40 F/4 C until day of use.

Remove ribs from heat rated bag and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I always add a little dried parsley to help me measure…
Sprinkle the ribs with a little flour to absorb any remaining moisture. Spread one egg white over the entire surface of the ribs. This sticks the rib to the rub, and the rub to the rib.

Sprinkle the rub on both sides, and stand the ribs up in racks so that indirect heat comes in contact with all surfaces, not just the top. Smoke or roast @
180 F/82 C X 4 hours.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, shock cold and drain well. Combine with other ingredients and toss lightly.

Combine the Dark Side sauce with the butter and simmer until the butter melts. Stir in a circular fashion (one direction only!) to emulsify or blend mechanically.


Sous-B-Q and entertaining go together. When you have people over to share your taste sensations, it is fun and engaging to create an intermediate presentation. People can then “notice” it while you scurry about putting the final touches on the service end, refilling beverages and so forth. This is also a good time to paint the rib sections with the adjoining sauce. That creates the fine glisten.

After it sits for a few minutes, you can cut and separate all the ribs, exposing the edges. This creates an appealing brightness. Pile them up back and forth like a crude fence. Now you REALLY have everybody’s attention, and the conversation finally ceases completely.

Keeping some extra sauce on the side not only tantalizes taste buds, it redirects the conversation to your skills. Be ready with a flowery description, vivid but not too detailed. I might say something like “The flavor and color is derived from Tamarind, but butter provides the texture.

Of course, while no one was paying attention, you grilled a few pre-buttered slices of a rustic batard or levain loaf. Thus your presentation is bountiful, but tidy and tall!

We have created a buffet presentation, but I find guests to be timid about helping themselves to what appears to be a precarious Jenga. This is one good reason why we have only two actually items on our little menu. With very little fanfare, we can create a nice presentation with altitude, easily suited and geared to each individual appetite. People like to see the big slabs, but prefer not to wrestle with them.

Clearly, there is little or no red in this dish. Not even the dark hue that COMES from red! When I made the Dark Side Barbecue Sauce the first time, my spouse looked at the big pitcher and said, “Isn’t that a little bit on the dark side for Barbecue sauce?” Typically, she is not particularly interested in my work, but her utterance was bound to stick. And so it did!

The Day After

When we handle cooked food properly, the concept of the “leftover” becomes obsolete. By avoiding cross contamination and long periods in temperature danger zones, we can better retain the quality of the food. Even if it was intended to be eaten last night, it has been “at risk” less overall than many foods requiring numerous procedures over longer periods. Some foods require different steps of processing over the course of weeks, or even months.

We carelessly use the term “leftover” to mislabel food that we suspect may have been mishandled or contaminated at some point after it was served the first time. It is somehow not worthy of being served with care and interest. Certainly not to a guest. We all eat leftovers, but we tend to throw them together or eat them cold instead of hot! We need to give our leftovers some respect!

The Rekindle

When I saw the leftover spareribs in the fridge the next day, I put on my thinking cap. I made a simple polenta with some dry parsley in it (by now you know I put parsley in everything). Meanwhile, I steamed the ribs and removed the meat. I saved the steaming juices, too, and reduced them, added some Dark Side sauce, stirred in a little butter, bada bing, bada boom. It is not that this was not good enough for guests. This may have been too good for guests.

The only thing a dish like this lacks in legitimacy is a name. Wait. An “authentic” Italian dish is very similar to this, called…”Spuntature.” Spuntature means the clippings, the trim, but it is the familiar term for pork spareribs. It is even served with Polenta sometimes; we are not that far off.

Very unctuous, and the little pieces of white gristle that populate spare ribs become tenderly edible. Definitely worthy!



This recipe incorporates star anise, usually associated with Asian cooking. It is unrelated to the vegetables and seeds that we refer to as anise or fennel, although any difference in flavor is indistinguishable. I was still surprised to discover that the iconic French aperitif "Pernod" is made using star anise instead of the indigenous plant that perfumes the air so heavily in Corsica.


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