Rhonda’s Ribs 泰式香辣烤肋排


Loads of contrasting flavors would explode in your mouth…”The big four seasonings” gives the zest and distinguishing aroma of the dish. It was inspired by my cool sister-in-law Rhonda, a big fan of Thai food, who lives in Tampa, FL.

I made up my mind to cook real Thai food whenever visiting my Tampa home after having had a ‘traumatizing’ experience with my visiting Chinese family in 2015 in a neighborhood Thai joint over by my previous Tampa Bay apartment. It happened that Rhonda, my sister-in-law, is a big fan of Thai food. I wanted to impress her when she was over for dinner one night – it seemed that I had succeeded. Credit also goes to Su-Mei Yu, who introduced authentic Thai food to America 20 years ago.  I got a hang of pounding exquisite and balanced Thai spices and ingredients from her book “Cracking the Coconut”.

Serves 4-6,  

  • 1500g   pork spareribs 整条猪肋排

For seasonings – The Big Four Seasonings, makes 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon          coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon          Thai white peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon             sea salt
  • 12-15 cloves          garlic, minced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup                      Cilantro (or called ‘fresh coriander’) stems and roots,  minced


  • 2 tablespoon          olive oil
  • 2                              Lemon

For toppings

  • 1 cup                         Fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 10-12                         Green and Red Thai bird chili. minced (or any type of chilis you can possibly find)
  • 2 tablespoon             The Big Four Seasonings
  • 2                                  Lime
  • 1 teaspoon                 fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon                 sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon              palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon              unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped


For the Big Four Seasonings

  1. Dry-roast the coriander seeds over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes till the seeds are fragrant. Transfer the seed to a small bowl to cool. Repeat with the peppercorns. Grind the seeds and peppercorns separately in an electric blender.
  2. Add the set salt and garlic in a mortar and pound them together by moving the pestle up and down in the center of the mortar till a paste forms. Add the coriander stems and roots and pound to a small paste. Add the ground coriander and peppercorns and pound and blend till the past is smooth.
  3. OR you can use electric blender for the step 2. You will need roast and grind the coriander seeds and peppercorns as above. Add the seat salt, garlic, coriander roots and stems and pulse until finely minced. Add the ground spices and process to a paste. This will result in the coarser paste than the one made using mortar and pestle

Grill the Ribs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C°.
  2. Coat the ribs with olive oil and the juice of lemon; rub generously with 2 tablespoons of the Big Four Seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Place aluminum foil in a baking tray, arrange the ribs in the tray and cover the ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out. And bake for 2.5 hours.
  4. Remove the aluminum foil on the top of the tray. Bake the ribs for another 0.5 to 1 hour. The ribs are ready to serve when it is nearly falling off the bone.
  5. Combine all the ingredients of topping together except the peanuts.
  6. Place the ribs on a serving plate. Arrange the peanuts then rest of the combined ingredients of toppings.

Cook’s notes

  1. The Big Four Seasonings is made of key four ingredients of garlic, salt, coriander (fresh and dry)and white peppercorns. Hence the name. The basic seasonings gives Thai cuisine its distinct flavors. Root of Cilantro, or fresh coriander, is cooked by Thai for its aroma. It is strong, and a little goes a long way. Since it it is usually a matter of sheer luck to find cilantro with roots intact in American supermarkets. So the ingredients of the Big Four Seasonings was adapted by using cilantro stems in combination with roasted coriander seeds.
  2. The Big Four Seasonings can be made ahead and refrigerated for a month.prep-photo

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