Episode 107: One Good Turn

Huli-Huli Spare Ribs

Huli-Huli Spare Ribs

Rotisserie grilling or spit-roasting combines the smoky sear of grilling with the heat of roasting. Add 3 more benefits: basting, no flare-ups, and the fragrance of wood smoke. Spare ribs are given the huli-huli (turn-turn) treatment.


More Ribs Recipes



Huli-Huli Spare Ribs

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4
  • Method: Spit-roasting/rotisserie


  • 2 racks spare ribs, each rack about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freeze dried chives

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups canned pineapple juice
  • 1 cup dark or regular soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Thai chili sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • 2 slices ginger (1/4 inch thick), crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, white part crushed with the side of a cleaver, green part finely chopped

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Make the rub: Place the salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, and chives in a small bowl and stir to mix, breaking up any lumps in the garlic with your fingers.

Step 2: Prepare the ribs. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of each rack of ribs: Turn a rack meat side down. Insert a sharp implement, such as the tip of a meat thermometer, under the membrane (the best place to start is right next to the first rib bone). Using a dishcloth or pliers to gain a secure grip, pull off the membrane. Repeat with the other rack.

Step 3: Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Brush on both sides with sesame oil and sprinkle on both sides with the rub. Store the ribs in the refrigerator while you make the glaze and set up your grill.

Step 4: Make the glaze: Place the pineapple juice in a heavy nonreactive saucepan and boil over high heat until reduced by half. Lower the heat to medium and add the soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, lime juice, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, and scallion white. Simmer the mixture over medium high heat until syrupy, 5 minutes.

Step 5: Thread the ribs onto the rotisserie spit: Using a sharp, slender knife and starting on the bone side, make starter holes in the meat between every two ribs. Twist the knife blade to widen the holes. This makes it easier to insert the spit. Use an over and under weaving motion to thread the ribs, through the holes, onto the spit.

Step 6: Set up the grill for spit-roasting and preheat to high.

Step 7: When ready to cook, attach the spit to the rotisserie mechanism and turn on the motor. Grill the ribs, covered, until golden brown and cooked through, 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size. The ribs are done when you can pull them apart with your fingers and when the meat has shrunk back about 1/4 inch from the ends of the bones. The last 20 minutes, start basting the ribs with the glaze and baste several times.

Step 8: Transfer the spit with the ribs to a cutting board. Carefully pull out the skewer. Cut each rack of ribs in half or into individual ribs and serve at once, with the remaining glaze drizzled over them. (Remove the ginger, garlic, and scallion white with a fork and discard.) Sprinkle with the scallion greens and serve at once.

Recipe Tips

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Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2018 Barbacoa, Inc.