Why is it that whenever I decide to grill outdoors in New York, it turns out to be the hottest day of the century? This has occurred several times this season.
Most recently, I had intended to light the coals and cook up a pile of ribs. But then I caved. Did I really want to stand over a hot fire in the scorching midday sun?
It was easy to opt for an alternative. I turned the oven to 250 degrees, popped in the pork ribs, and retired to an air-conditioned room, cool drink in hand. Over the course of an hour and a half, I visited the ribs occasionally, flipping them over and daubing them with some of the marinade in the pan. The major work was essentially done. Later, I would paint them again and let them sizzle and glaze.
The ribs themselves were not the giant slathered-and-barbecued kind; those are best left to the pros. Friends were coming over, and I wanted irresistible finger food on hand. Baby back ribs, cut Asian-style into three-inch, bone-in pieces, would be just the ticket. To determine how to cook them, I leafed through cookbooks.
Andy Ricker’s “Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand,” published in 2013, had a recipe for Thai-style ribs that looked promising and not too complicated. The straightforward marinade combines honey, soy sauce, ginger and sesame — the chef concedes the recipe is Chinese-influenced — rather than the lemongrass and coconut-milk versions I had…