Ribs on the Roof

Sunset view from our new roof!

I’m a first-generation American. My mom and dad are Chinese, born and raised in the Philippines. So I don’t have any relatives to celebrate on Memorial Day, but my family was affected by war. Before my mom was born my grandparents’ home was taken over by the Japanese during WW2. They turned the basement into a dungeon of sorts, with shackle-adorned cells. Creepy! So, thanks to all those WW2 vets for getting my mom her home back. We called it “Vi Ma Pa” though I have no idea what that means.

Ironically one of my favorite books is Johnny Got His Gun, which got Dalton Trumbo blackballed during the McCarthy era. Go figure. (I am just pointing out the irony, not trying to make a political statement.)

Since Ryan had to work, we didn’t have any plans to get out of town or go to the beach. Instead I prepped ribs that we’d bought on Sunday – whenever we have one of these Monday holidays I am grateful because I have the time to do big projects like bake, marinate, or slowcook ribs in the oven while he is at work. These are a riff on Ryan’s ribs, which he glazes with Coca-Cola and jalapeños.

For the rub I used Chinese 5-spice which is just cinnamon, anise, ginger, cloves, and fennel. I mixed that with brown sugar, salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and some garlic powder, then rubbed it all over the ribs and let it sit overnight in the fridge. This was a 1am project that was foisted  upon me in an effort to make me tired enough to go to sleep.

To cook the ribs you will need:
1 large oven bag
1 large roasting pan
1-2 large jalapeños, sliced
2 (ish) tomatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
Beer – I used Innis & Gunn because it’s my favorite. It’s aged in whiskey barrels and has a caramel-y taste, so it kinda goes with the 5-spice and brown sugar.
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 250-275 degrees. In a large sauté or sauce pan heat some oil. Add the onions and garlic, then the jalapeños and tomatoes. Cook until softened, season with salt & pepper. Then add one bottle of beer and a little bit of water (about 1/3 – 1/2 bottle). Bring to a simmer then kill the heat.

Cut the rack of ribs into two large pieces (or however many sections you need to have them fit in the roasting pan, laying flat). Put an oven bag into the roasting pan, then put the ribs inside the bag. Carefully pour/spoon/scoop the roasting liquid you just made into the bag, then use the tie to secure it. You want to make sure all the air is out of the bag before securing. Place in the oven for 4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, pull the pan out of the oven. Cut the bag open and make sure to cut away enough of it so the ribs are exposed, or you can do away with it altogether. Turn the oven up to 400 and place the ribs back in for another 30-45 minutes to caramelize them.


That’s it – they should be falling off the bone when you pull them back out, and then you can slice them into individual ribs.

I added all the sides into the oven (corn, Japanese yams) before turning up the heat. Just use common sense – yams/potatoes take longer so you should give them at least 45 mins to an hour to cook. Corn is faster and doesn’t need to cook that long so you can wait a bit.

Rooftop ribs

We hiked onto our roof with folding chairs and ate while watching the sunset. For the record, a bottle Innis & Gunn fits nicely into your front pocket.


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