One of my dear friend’s birthdays is coming up and since, on his actual birthday, he’ll be up in the air, unable to make it to a celebratory dinner party, I decided to throw him one early. I take birthdays very seriously. I think it’s because I like to make a big deal out of mine. I’ll plan out the perfect day (I always try to take the day off work, if I can), focusing on the food of course. Birthdays are the one day a year that you should throw all your inhibitions away and eat yourself into a happy (birthday) food coma.
Happy birthdays should always include food. I think food is one of the things that makes people truly happy, so when I cook for people, I always worry about what I’m making. There’s usually double pressure too, because I want to please myself and the person I’m cooking for (and Mike, so I guess that’s triple pressure?). I always pay attention to food loves and aversions, but this particular birthday dude is one tough nut to crack. He’s pretty stoic when it comes to food: he likes eating, but he’s never really stated what it is he really likes eating, aside from this one crab dinner he had in Osaka years ago. I entertained the thought briefly, but there’s just no way that I can do a Osakan crab dinner, so that was out.
Thankfully, one day, he randomly mentioned that he never had home cooked ribs before. Mike and I were aghast because, ahem, I’m kind of a ribs master (not really, heehee). So ribs it was! And with the ribs I made some mac and cheese waffles (so, so good), a simple salad, and a big pitcher of summery sangria. Dessert was a classic chocolate cake with a dinosaur figurine for extra birthday love
But, you know what? I have to admit, as much as I love cooking things people want to eat, it’s even better when what they want to eat is something that makes it easy for me. Ribs are the best dinner party dish: you can make them ahead of time, they’re delicious, and they’re kinda sort of impressive in the I made a boatload of meat sort of way. Ribs are one of the easiest dinner party dishes, I feel. And, bonus, when you eat ribs with friends, you really know that you’re family. Who else would you eat so savagely with, ripping meat of bones, getting your hands all up in the food, sauce all over your face. You know that when you invite someone over for ribs, what you’re really saying is: hey, let’s eat some food with our hands together. You can be your real self and forget all about utensils, I won’t judge you.
On to the ribs! I made three kinds, but I’m only providing one recipe here. One of racks was kalbi baby back ribs, which you can find the recipe for right here. There was also a giant rack of beef ribs too, but I used a rub, and let’s face it, a ribs recipe with a rub isn’t really a recipe at all. The last rack of ribs I made was a take on Chinese char siu. They were sticky, slightly sweet, ultra savory and just fall off the bone. They happened to be the favorite of the bunch, so they’re pretty much a winner. If you like char siu (and who doesn’t?) you’ll love the flavor of these ribs.