So another Valentine’s Day is in the books, and for me that means that spring is just around the corner. As far as my job goes, the day marks a point in the semester where classes are well underway, my star students are shining and other students are either making great strides in improving their skillset, or making for a big headache for me; the joys of being an educator. As I taught this morning, I gave myself the task of knocking out these Korean ribs. it’s not often that I cook in class, so it’s always a treat.
I love teaching at the college level, as the questionably performing student is truly a rarity, and in some semesters, completely nonexistent. In fact, I am fortunate enough to see tremendous growth in a clear majority of my students as they navigate their way through the various departments in the college on their quest to complete their degree. And so many of them do so with multiple jobs, multiple children, spouses or exes and the like. Rarely do I have to sit and hear excuses as to why work didn’t get completed. It’s usually a simple “I just didn’t do it, Chef” and I can live with that. After all, if we’re not honest, what are we?
But, back to the day in question. With Valentine’s Day now behind us, the days become notably longer and in a few weeks they will become warmer. As the flowers are already popping up in my Mother-in-Law’s garden beds, I feel assured that the worst of winter is over, except for that last snow storm that is lurking out there somewhere.
From here, my students and I must work our way through four more special events, and then it’s smooth sailing. As we finish earlier at the college than in the surrounding county high schools, I will be able to visit some schools, spreading the message of what we do and how we plan to grow the program.
But enough about work. Let’s get back to spring, as it will inevitably lead to my favorite season down here: summer. With disbelief, I look out the window at my barren backyard, the banana trees that adorned the many garden beds now cut to the ground. In just a month or so, they will be shooting up like fireworks, with new shoots littering the back yard as I put out the call again to anyone who wants them.
The gentleman who installed our shed confided in me that he plundered the back yard for banana tree shoots years ago when the house sat empty, and that his have taken off in his yard as well. And when they grow to be eight to nine feet tall, you soon find yourself in a tropical paradise of your own making, while saving a fair amount of money on the orange crushes and Coronas.
I gave my brother six shoots last year and he planted them in a corner of his yard in Kent Island by his grilling center. By the end of the summer, they were over three-feet tall, testament to the weed-like tenacity of these mighty hybrid plants. So, if you want some, just let me know. I can assure you that I will be cutting many of them down and throwing them over the fence in two months.
As I look over the pool (it wasn’t installed correctly so it’s a little rickety – I call it the Addams Family Pool) in its present condition, I relish in the thought of getting one or two more seasons out of it and then having it ripped out and filled in. There are just too many things to fix and it will be nice to recapture that part of the yard for frolicking, running and maybe a game or cornhole or horseshoes.
And at the end of the day, summer is almost here, students are working feverishly and all in all, I can thank Valentine’s Day again for marking our entry into the warmer months. But, for now I’ll sit and enjoy these ribs, the end of winter and the chilly start of spring. The journey gets better with every passing day.
Korean-Style Pork Ribs
2 racks Pork back ribs, peeled
1 Asian pear
1 cup Dark soy sauce
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup Brown sugar or Korean ginger syrup
3 Tbsp. Korean red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup Gochujang (miso may be used in a pinch)
- Cut the Asian pear and place in blender cup with remaining ingredients
- Blend until pureed
- Place ribs in a large, heavy-duty bag. If you have any kind of vacuum packer, that is ideal.
- Pour marinade in and let sit in the icebox for up to four hours
- Remove from the bag and place on a cooking sheet, reserving the marinade
- Bake at 350F for about an hour or so, until the pork begins to turn tender and it is nice and crusted
- While the ribs are roasting, bring the marinade to a boil and turn to a simmer, reducing it to a glaze consistency
- Put the ribs on the grill and cook for about two minutes on each side, and serve with the glaze, and garnish with sliced scallions and some toasted sesame seeds