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Kimchi Pork Ribs

by Brad Prose
kimchi smoked pork ribs
There’s almost 1 Cup of kimchi on this rack.

Few ingredients for a lot of funk.

These kimchi pork ribs were inevitable once I bought my dehydrator. The first thing I wanted to dehydrate was kimchi. You’re probably wondering why, but I’ve had this idea of concentrating the flavor into a BBQ rub for a long time. I haven’t seen anybody bother to try it yet so I wanted to make the jump and go for it.

We have pockets of Korean communities in Phoenix, mostly on the east side. There are some amazing markets, restaurants and shops that have exposed me to their style. Kimchi was really the first ingredient that I tasted where I really started to understand what umami meant. Those of you that are familiar with kimchi, you know that there are many, many varieties with all sorts of combinations of vegetables and spices. The type I’m speaking of today is the classic kimchi, which is made with napa cabbage.

I’ve tried quite a bit of varieties over the years, and even made my own. There are a few brands and styles I stick with for various recipes. The key for going down my rabbit hole of dehydrating kimchi is to find one that you really like. It’s going to become even more intense and potent as you dehydrate it, so you better like it.

Dehydrated kimchi rub.

First you’ll want to take out as much moisture as you can before you toss this into the dehydrator. I simply took the largest pieces of kimchi that I could, drained the excess liquid, and laid them out on paper towels on the counter top to make sure that the liquid would be absorbed. You can dry as much as you want, but I would not do less than 2 Cups or you’ll probably regret it. As the kimchi dries, and gets ground, you’ll realize that there’s really not that much as an end result.

For 2 Cups of kimchi, expect roughly about 1/3 Cup of the kimchi powder at the end of the process. The kimchi dehydrates at 145°F for about 10-12 hours, so get ready to wait. It needs to be pretty brittle, so make sure it’s completely dry and pop that into your spice grinder when cooled.

Putting this together.

Kimchi is really delicious because it’s not just fermented cabbage – it’s a whole lot of ingredients.  I’ve seen some varieties that use shrimp, oysters, potatoes, ginger, garlic, Asian pears, fish sauce, radishes, carrots… and the list just continues.  I don’t want to try to finish this list in fear of leaving someone’s favorite ingredient off if you are a true fan.

You know what makes it even better?  Gochujang. If you’ve been around here before, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Another complex ingredient: spicy, smokey, savory.  I keep it really simple here with a Gochujang paste:

  • 3 Tbsp Gochujang
  • 1 Tbsp water

Mix until it’s a smooth paste.  Depending on the age of your gochujang this might take more water, or more stirring.  This is what you’ll be using as a binder for the ribs.

Lightly salt your ribs (both sides) before brushing on the paste. Generously apply the kimchi rub, I used almost 2 Tbsp sprinkled on both sides.

As you can see I’ve got baby back ribs hanging in a Pit Barrel Cooker. You can use any type of ribs (or pork belly) in any type of cooker.  Use the 3-2-1 method, or hang them like I did here.  If you like the ribs even spicier, you can glaze halfway through with more of the gochujang paste, but I’ll warn you that it might be pretty strong if you’re not used to it.  I like to keep the salt, paste, and kimchi rub layers in tact and let it ride.

Please share feedback if you try this out!  I’d love to know since this is a brand new recipe, and I haven’t seen this out there yet.  I’m always looking for ways to make things better, tastier, and easier to explain.  Cheers!

kimchi smoked pork ribs

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