Saturday, 4 February 2012

Charcoal Grilled Chicken Ribs

I love food grilled over charcoal. Who doesn't? Only crazy people. A few years ago I decided to sell my gas BBQ because cooking over gas just isn't really a BBQ!  When we were in Vietnam a couple of years ago I bought my first charcoal BBQ, I loved it and used it to death. It cost about $5 to buy plus about $80 to send it home!  I was sure that I wouldn't be able to get one back home and that's how I justified the expense. My original Vietnam charcoal BBQ is now in pieces as all the terracotta is broken but I can't throw it away because its somehow special to me.


The little shop in Dalat where I bought my first charcoal BBQ for $5. 



You can imagine how exited I was when I went to to Nathan Thai in Footscray and saw a newer larger charcoal BBQ for sale for $30! Its a bit of a long story as I didn't buy it that day (for some stupid reason) but went back the next day to find out they had sold all three in the one day!  The owner must have sensed my devastation and told me he would arrange to get me another one and this time hold it for me.


I have so many favourite charcoal grilled recipes but one of the best is grilled chicken ribs. I go through many variations of marinades and the latest one is as good as any of the best. Firstly, let me rave about chicken ribs. Obviously they aren't actually ribs, one of my chiropractor friends analysed them one day and decided they were clavicles which I think is the collar bone. they are such a wonderful cut of meat, a bit like natures own little satay. A single bone runs through the middle of the succulent thigh like flesh so that you can hold onto one end and chop the meat off cleanly in a couple of bites, just like a satay!

Ok so the marinade, this one is from the Vietnamese Street Food recipe book by Tracey Lister. I use the barbecued Pork Ribs recipe marinade, just with chicken instead. I really enjoy making marinades fro grilling meat, its a simple process of chopping everything up and giving it a bash in the mortar and pestle then leaving it to marinade with the meat until you're ready to use it. I always fell so organised when I have meat marinading in the fridge!

The marinade ingredients are as follows:

2 1/2 tbs soy sauce (I use baby boy brand)
1 tbs fish sauce
3 tsp annatto oil (you can get annatto seeds to make the oil from 'Little Saigon')
6 small garlic cloves ( i prefer the imported chinese garlic of the strong purple Australian stuff)
3 cm knob of ginger
1 long red chilli
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp five spice powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 star anise
1 crushed cinnamon stick

Firstly I pound all the dry spices to a powder then add the chopped ginger, garlic and chilli to make a course paste. Then add the fish sauce, annatto oil and soy sauce and brown sugar and that's it. Add the meat and marinate for a few hours or overnight.


Charcoal grilling can be tricky because you need to make sure the coals are just right. I just wait until the flames have died down and start grilling. You will inevitably get a few flare ups, these just need to be watched so that you don't get too much charcoal. I find that its best if you constantly turn the ribs and move them around a bit.  If the heat dies down a bit (charcoal doesn't seem to burn as long as heat beads but gives a far superior taste) just fan the coals and they'll soon roar back to a high heat.  Another favourite and indispensable piece of charcoal grilling equipment is a fan, I got mine from one of the Footscray asian grocers of course.

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