Ribs Recipe

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 12:09 PM | 9 comments »

June 30th was the one-year anniversary of the death of my friend, Scottie, an incredible person and someone who made my life, and those of all privileged enough to be called friend, joyful.

Somewhere, somehow, sometime, in our youth, Tamarind, Scottie, and I became “The Three Musketeers.”

Today, I give you a recipe for Tamarind ribs (I know it was supposed to be Guava, but grief does peculiar things to the mind).

At the end of this blog is my Tamarind ribs recipe and I beg you to suffer treasured memories before getting to the “meat” of it.

Knowing Scottie, she would want us to celebrate her life, and I do so by reliving cherished moments beginning with a trip that saw more action than the last X-man film and her favorite Tamarind ribs recipe.

Fifteen years ago my father died.

I was Daddy’s little girl, and his death sent my mother and me both into a depression that we could not seem to shake off. My husband and, one of my best friends, ‘Scottie’, decided we needed to get away. Somehow they arranged for mum and I to fly to London (Scottie’s home), and then to do a six day trip to Greece.

It all began auspiciously enough.

We arrived in London at around eight in the morning after having flown, with the lost time, a good sixteen hours. Immigration and customs proved a breeze and we were soon chattering with Scottie as she drove us to her Highgate townhome. Now, you have to understand, this, by London standards, is a huge, gorgeous home, with three sets of stairs that are reminiscent of the new stadium seating. You know the kind of stairs where you hold onto the rail with both hands and pray every prayer in the book while your feet inch down each precarious step one breath at a time. Her home had those kind of steps, but….without rails.

Try taking my mother’s, who doesn’t understand the meaning of the words ‘light travel’, three heavy suitcases up those stairs. By the time that job was done, I really, really needed a shot of something.

Now, professionally Scottie is the most organized competent woman in the world -- sigh -- but, for some reason known only to the eccentric British mind-set, she made a conscious decision to throw organization out with the bathwater in her personal life.

Okay, before I go any further let me just say this -- she had organized the whole trip. You’ll come back to this line often, I promise.

While we shower and change, she cooks us breakfast, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, croissants and heavenly homemade jam (courtesy of her friend, Ann). All washed down with Laurent Perrier Champagne. Sated, tipsy enough to crawl the last couple of steps to our attic bedroom, we agree to a nap before going over our Greek itinerary.

Our flights to Athens are scheduled for ten the following morning.

In the midst of a blissful dream, something tickles my toes.

“Wake up.”

“Huh?” Bleary-eyed, mind functioning a tad above a toddler’s, I stare at Scottie who’s wearing a very guilt-ridden smile. Every one of us has seen that kind of smile, too bright, too wide, showing too much teeth, while the wearer can’t meet your gaze.

“I think we might have a wee,” here Scottie forms a half-inch with her thumb and forefinger, “problem.”

“Can’t it wait?”

“Not really. Come on downstairs, we need to talk.”

Amazing how alert you can become going down stairs that threaten to hurtle you off the face of the planet. Precarious minutes later Scottie and I are hipping counters in the kitchen.

“Um,” Scottie says, busying herself popping another bottle of champers.

Anticipation, I realized a scant minute later, she knew that I’d need a blast of liquor.

“I think you might need a visa.”

Pop! Fizz.

Nerve endings frizzle, my brain frazzles.


“I didn’t think of it before. But, you know, you have those island passports, and I think you might need a visa.”

“It’s Friday, Scottie.”

“I know. I have the embassy’s number.” Big grin, an oversized goblet of champagne being poured, my stomach knots as Scottie's smile widens.

“Our flights are for ten in the morning,” I pause, my extremities grow cold as the blood drains from my fingers and toes and create a red haze around my jet-lagged, alcohol-fogged mind. “As in tomorrow morning.”

“It’s only one o’clock.” She shoves the crystal into my hand. “Drink up. I’ll call.”

“Uh-uh.” I set down the glass barely managing not to break it. “Scottie, this trip cost a fortune. My mum’s really looking forward to it.”

“No worries, it’ll be okay. Drink up,” she croons, wrapping my fingers about the fragile stem.

“I’ll speak to them. You dial the numbers.”

London’s area codes bedevil me to this day.

Fifteen minutes and many Greek musical interludes later I reach an embassy official. Have you ever noticed that all embassy employees are unfailingly of the ‘little Napoleon complex’?

“Yes, Madam, you do need a visa,” the little man, who I know is looking down his nose, says.

Scottie and I are mouthing obscenities to each other.

No that’s incorrect. I’m mouthing obscenities; she’s shrugging her shoulders and pouring more bubbly and mouthing, “Drink up.”

“It takes three days to get a visa, Madam.”

“But our flights are booked for tomorrow.”


“If I come down there right away, is there a possibility we can get a visa today?”

Some part of my subconscious must have already ceded defeat because I gulp down the entire glass of champagne in one go. The bubbles send me into a sneezing fit and I almost miss the officious tone as the man remarks, “It takes a week to get an appointment to get a visa.”

And that was five hours (minus flight time) into the trip. If I’d only know that day one would end up mundane as compared to the events of the next six days.

Tamarind Ribs Recipe

First of all, if you have a pressure cooker this is the recipe for it. Nothing tenderizes ribs to falling off the bone consistency like a pressure cooker. If not, well, suck it in and eat it up, marinate, marinate, marinate-- let the ribs soak in the marinade for at least 24 hours.


2 Baby Back ribs
Coarse ground salt and pepper- it really does make a difference if you freshly grind both
1 cup Ketchup
2 level tablespoons soya sauce
3 level tablespoons tamarind concentrate (you can get this at Asian groceries)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
Four minced large garlic cloves (you can adjust this, I love garlic)
A dash of hot sauce, your favorite, to taste (I have one son who loves hot, one who can’t abide, so I always err on the light side)
Depending upon the company coming, I may add a dash of either peanut or sesame oil to taste. I have a friend who is allergic to peanuts-- check with your guests. Seal the ribs and the marinade in a plastic bag and turn every 12 hours for 24 hours. Pressure-cook the ribs in the marinade. Drain and follow the barbeque steps.

If you’re not using a pressure cooker, preheat your oven to the lowest possible temperature, which is probably around 170. Seal the ribs in two layers of aluminum foil (we say al-oo-m-i-u-m, you say aloominum). Set the ribs on a non-stick pan and roast for around 8 hours.


Preheat the grill to the highest setting. Sear the ribs (they’re already cooked). Serve with lots of tamarind sauce (recipe follows).

Tamarind Sauce

1 lb raw tamarind pods, brittle outer coating removed (hah, you Trinis say -- talk about spouting the obvious. Ahem, I do live in the US and lawsuits…need I say more?)
1 cup brown sugar -- Demerara if you can find it
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon each of minced ginger, garlic, and thyme
1 cup dark unflavored rum
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer the above ingredients until the mixture thickens (alternately, you can do this in a slow cooker overnight), drain, and serve with the ribs.

My side dishes to this are usually crusty toasted French bread and a potato/green bean/ bacon/ salad tossed with a blue cheese vinaigrette. The green beans are healthy, the potato is the starch, and, well, the blue cheese and the bacon are food for your soul. Of course, wine and beer just add to the gusto!


  1. Judy // July 2, 2009 at 2:13 PM  

    Such fun, Jianne, to read about your trip. Of course, I want to know about the next 6 days...:) And the recipe for ribs is wonderful. Must try it. Thank you, and thanks to Scottie for a nice story

  2. TVS // July 2, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

    "...the best-laid plans... Can't wait to hear the rest!

  3. Beth Trissel // July 2, 2009 at 4:52 PM  

    Jianne, I hung on your every word and you left me hanging! More story about your wonderful friend Scottie and this trip. What a saga. Loved it.

  4. Scarlet Pumpernickel // July 2, 2009 at 5:53 PM  

    Jianne! You can't do this! You're going to leave us hanging? Bad girl, you must know we have to know what happened next!

    Thanks for the recipe, I plan to give it a try soon.


  5. Mary Ricksen // July 2, 2009 at 5:56 PM  

    You, my friend, are a big tease!!
    Now you got us hanging!

  6. Pamela Varnado // July 2, 2009 at 7:58 PM  

    Your experience is an example of how life is more exciting than fiction. I can't wait to read the rest of the story. SO HURRY AND POST IT.

  7. Mona Risk // July 2, 2009 at 9:22 PM  

    Jianne, I laughed so much about your trip. I am sorry I know it was supposed to be bad but...so what happened next? Did you go to Greece or ended up in...Africa?

  8. Mary Marvella // July 2, 2009 at 11:18 PM  

    It was worth the wait!

  9. Dayana // July 3, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

    Gianne! No fair! I'm left teetering on the edge of a large precipice. Please, the ribs sound delectable but I need to know the rest of the story.

    More! More!

    I will be awaiting the rest of this story with bated breath and white knuckles as I hang on to the edge dangling precariously...