Hawaiian Char Sous-Vide BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Well hello there my fellow foodies. I have some great, albeit late, news to share with everyone. A few weeks back, I was selected to be a part of an exciting food blogger contest being put together by the makers of my favorite new kitchen tool, the SousVide Supreme! Upon reviewing my competition, I appear to be an underdog with my limited BBQ experience, but I am certainly up for the challenge. After being delayed a week by a much needed vacation to see my folks down in Arizona, I am ready to test my skills. I would like to start by wishing a sincere “Best of Luck” to the other bloggers, but I really want to win one of these sweet water ovens.

Without further ado, my first recipe entry: Hawaiian Char Sous-Vide BBQ Baby Back Ribs! For this meal I have accompanied them with Braised Chinese Broccoli!


I have finally found a rib cooking method that doesn’t require me to constantly monitor and baby a smoker, but can still deliver insanely tender, fall off the bone goodness! In an attempt to get as much use out of the Sous-Vide Supreme water bath while I still have it, I decided to head to Sam’s Club and pick up a giant cost savings 3 pack of baby back ribs. With the lovely vacuum sealer that they sent me to keep (score!), I was able to prep one rack of ribs for an immediate test recipe, and seal and freeze the other two. After prepping my test rack of baby backs, I divided it in half to try two recipes with one cut (The joy’s of cooking for two!). This is the first of those two recipes.

I wanted to try something familiar and quite frankly simple. After just returning home late the night previous from a great trip down in Arizona, I was a bit tired and my creative energy was idling at a low simmer. After spending a week eating an obscene amount of delicious Mexican food, my mind immediately veered into my other comfort zone.

Asian-American cuisine.

I have a major soft spot for the always popular, frighteningly pinkish red pork spare ribs that you can find in most Asian markets. Similar in approach to the common bbq pork packages widely available in most supermarkets nowadays, but with an infinitely more delicious cut of meat. Sometimes, lean pork loin just won’t cut it, and at this moment, I was craving a little bit of fat to pair with my meat eaten straight off the bone.

Total caveman status.

The version of char siu that I am most familiar with, and what my pallet prefers, is more typical in Pacific Islander cultures, more specifically, Hawaiian cuisine. In Hawaii, a variety of meats are cooked char siu style.

“The term “char siu” refers to meats which have been marinated in charsiu seasoning prepared either from scratch or from store-bought char siu seasoning packages, then roasted in an oven or over a fire. Ingredients in marinades for charsiu are similar to those found in China (honey, five-spice, wine, soy, hoisin, etc.), except that red food coloring is often used in place of the red bean curd for convenience.

My first plan was to get the the long list of ingredients that make up the typical marinade for my char-siu pork ribs (you can find many recipes online now), but as my energy and most importantly funds (vacations=$$$$) were both severely lacking, I went with my ever faithful, if not very challenging or inventive sauce packets.

I know I know, what kind of food blog is this? As someone who generally avoids pre-made anything in favor of traditional methods from scratch, this is one of the few times that my Asian grocery stores carry something I am more than content with. Instead of sticking to one type, I went for a powder seasoning packet for my light marinade,

Powder variety from NOH

Powder variety from NOH

and a thick, runny bbq sauce style packet for finishing on the grill.DSC04756 When I got home, I had planned to let these sous-vide for 8 hours before firing up the grill to eat them that night. Turns out, my lazy day would drag into night and I simply didn’t have the energy nor appetite for a big meal, I decided to save the ribs until the following night. This my friends, is when the you realize the beauty of the SousVide Supreme. My reluctance to jump the gun on these ribs turned into the best accidental decision I’ve made in a while. With a now total sous-vide water bath time of 30 hours, my ribs came out unreal fall off the bone tender.

I’m talking cutting them with a spoon tender. A plastic spoon.

Just a few minutes of slather, grill, slather, grill, slather, taste test (burn mouth), and remove and dinner was ready.

I can safely say that these came out much better than my traditional slow and low oven method!


Side Note: I cannot say thank you enough to the wonderful people over at SousVide Supreme for giving me this opportunity to compete in their Summer Blogger BBQ Challenge. They were generous enough to lend me one gorgeous piece of kitchen technology to work with and a vacuum sealer to keep, and it has been an absolute dream. I might not be the favorite in the contest, but I feel like getting to compete with all of these fine folks and to get a chance to use their fine products is a victory in an of itself.

Thank you!


  • 2-3lbs pork baby back ribs (or spare ribs)
  • 2 Hawaiian style charsiu sauce/powder packets (mine were NOH & Hawaiian Pride)
  • 1/4 water (for char siu marinade)
  • 1 bunch of Chinese broccoli
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds for sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds for topping
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp miso
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp hot chili oil
  • 1/3 cup of water (for broccoli)


Char Siu Pork BBQ Baby Back Ribs

  1. Prep the ribs by first washing them gently under cold running water to clean them of any blood or debris. Next, pat them completely dry with paper towels. This is also a good time to get your water bath pre-heated, look for somewhere between 140-143°F.
  2. Whether you’re cooking pork baby backs or spareribs, you’ll want to be sure that the membrane, or silver skin, covering the bone side of each rack gets removed. If left on, it keeps seasonings and smoke from penetrating the meat, and it cooks into an unpleasant leathery skin on the ribs. Some racks are sold with the silver skin already removed, but you probably won’t know this until you open the package. If the silver skin is still intact, removing it is simple: Slide a table knife under the silver skin anywhere along the rack.
    Remove Silver Skin form backside of Ribs

    Remove Silver Skin form backside of Ribs

    If it resists in one spot, try another. Lift and loosen it with the knife until you can grab it. Pull it off the ribs; it should peel away in one large sheet, but if it breaks, use the knife to restart at another section.

  3. If using a powder mix, pour powder into a large, deep casserole dish and mix with 1/4 cup of water until the powder is completely dissolved and you are left with a lovely bright pink liquid. Dip the cleaned, dry ribs into the marinade and make sure to completely coat all visible portions of the meat.DSC04800 DSC04797

  4. Next, using a gallon sized vacuum bag, gently place the bright pink ribs in. Trim the bag if need be so that it will better fit in the water bath, then proceed to vacuum that air out!DSC04809

  5. Once vacuum packed, place the ribs into the preheated water bath, and set your time to your desired length, in my case I extended my 08:00 hour timer to a full 30:00 hours.DSC04811
  6. After the 30 hours is up, you need to get your grill preheated, and you will want this burning pretty hot. With cooking sous-vide, the meat is held and cooked at a perfect internal temperature, you are simply looking to add some flavor and texture variance with a fast, hot sear on the grill. This marinade is perfect for this approach as it has plenty of salt and sugar to both caramelize on the grill, and properly season your meat! When the grill is ready, remove the vacuum packed meat from the water bath. You will notice that there is some liquid in the bag from the meat, now while I have used this juice in the past for a finishing sauce, that wont be necessary here and you can discard it if you would like. DSC04895DSC04899 Once the meat is out of the bag, pat dry gently to remove any excess moisture. This moisture will prevent the marinade from sticking and prevent the maillard reaction that grilling so perfectly creates. Once patted dry, brush the ribs with your charsiu sauce and gently place on the grill. I mention gently because after a 30 hour sous-vide, these babies are tender and may fall apart if you’re too rough with them!
  7. Grill, slather, flip, grill, slather flip, done. It’s that simple. Since the meat is already holding at a perfect interior temperature, you are only looking to quick sear/char the exterior. Since its already preheated to 140+ degrees, this will happen faster than a cold or room temp piece of meat. Let cool a few minutes and DIG IN.DSC04927 DSC04925 DSC04922 DSC04917 DSC04911 DSC04910

How simple was that, right? Sure, it was a two day process, but the actual cooking and prep work came out to under 30 MINUTES! 30 minutes for fall off the bone, tender juicy Hawaiian Char Sous-Vide Baby Back Ribs!DSC04938

Braised Chinese BroccoliDSC04828

  1. First, wash the broccoli under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris that might still be there. Pat dry and move to a cutting board. You will now want to seperate the stalks from the leaves with a knife.DSC04850
  2. In a med-high wok or frying pay, add the sesame oil, garlic, ginger and 1/3 cup of water. When it starts to pop, lay in the stalks of broccoli, followed by the leaves on top and cover, this will help them cook at the same rate.DSC04851
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining sauce ingredients. DSC04846After about 10 minutes, remove the wok lid and pour in your miso sauce and mix thoroughly. Crank burner to high and sautee for 2-3 minutes or until the stalks are just tender. Remove from heat and sprinkle with some extra toasted sesame seeds.

I cannot wait to share the other sous-vide dishes I have been working on! Until then…

Bon Appetite!

Later this month, I’m competing with several other BBQ bloggers at http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/sousvidebbq.htm. Check back after June 25 to see what recipe I decide to enter and send me a vote if you want. As a bonus, each person who casts a vote for their fan favorite will be entered to win a $200 gift certificate to www.sousvidesupreme.com.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the SousVide Supreme to try as part of a blogger outreach program from the company.  The opinions are my own.

DSC04969 DSC04964 DSC04957 DSC04946 DSC04951 DSC04942 DSC04940 DSC04939

12 responses to “Hawaiian Char Sous-Vide BBQ Baby Back Ribs

  1. Good luck with the contest! I’ve had a SVS for over two years now, and still use it several times each week.(I had to pay for mine.)
    In a sous-vide recipe and especially one that uses a 30-hour cooking time, the temperature at which you cook is very important. Did you set the SV to 140 degrees? That sounds about right for pork ribs.
    If you do get to keep it, there are any SV recipes on my blog 🙂

  2. Good luck with the comp Nic! Don’t be intimidated by the big fish, your recipes, photography and style are pretty fantastic (actually, a lot fantastic! Magazine worthy methinks).
    This recipe sounds delicious. I love pork ribs and often slow-cook them in the oven but the sous vide method sounds really interesting! Will definitely vote for you in the competition 🙂

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