Paleo Asian ribs + watermelon salad

Ribs. Love them. Love stripping the bones clean. Love the fat. I don't, however, like some of the overly sugary glaze that you get from ribs in some restaurants. So here's a recipe I've found that subs all sugar out with coconut/palm sugar to keep things paleo. In keeping with the theme, it's got an asian inspired marinade and to cut through the fat and grease (oooooohhhh) a light citrusy watermelon and cherry tomato salad to lighten it all up.

serves 2 - 3 as a main

MARINADE (for at least 6 hours)
1tbsp    Thai chilli paste (Nam prik pao)
½ cup   coconut palm sugar
10         sprigs coriander stems + leaves - minced
1           onion - sliced
2 inch  knob fresh ginger - minced
6          garlic cloves - minced
½ cup   soya sauce
3          spring onions - thinly sliced
¼ cup   rice wine vinegar
1tsp      crushed black pepper
1tbsp    sesame oil
1kg       organic pork ribs
1tsp      chilli flakes (optional)

2tbsp   toasted coriander seeds - cracked
1tbsp    shallot - minced
1           unwaxed lemon - zest & freshly squeezed juice
2tbsp   apple cider vinegar
¾ cup  extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp    light runny honey
pinch   salt and pepper - to taste

500g   cherry tomatoes
1cup     watermelon / cantaloupe - sliced
6          sprigs coriander - stems and leaves minced


  1. Mix the onion, garlic, spring onions, coriander, ginger, sesame oil, chilli paste, soy sauce, coconut sugar and chilli flakes into a large baking tray. Plop the ribs into the paste and get your hands dirty, cover the ribs in the marinade. Cover the tray with cling film and refrigerate. Leave for at least 6 hours - I left mine for 24.
  2. When ready, heat the grill to high or use a charcoal BBQ if you have one. In the meantime, work on the salad. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and mix it in a large bowl with the sliced melon. Grab a jar or bowl for your vinaigrette. I like building my vinaigrettes in a jar so I could close the lid and give it a really good shake without worrying about spillage. 
  3. Toast the coriander seeds (1 - 2 mins) careful not to burn them. We just want to release the oils. Crush them in a pestle or mortar or just with the bottom of a frying pan on a surface and put it in the jar. Add the minced shallots, vinegar, zest of one lemon and then squeeze the lemon juice into the jar. Add a decent pinch of salt and then give the mix a bit of a shake to dissolve. Add olive oil and cracked fresh black pepper, close the lid and give it a really good shake. Add the honey, taste and season to your liking. Mix the vinaigrette into the melons and tomatoes and toss.
  4. Now that your grill is hot, use tongs and put the ribs onto the grill. The ribs will need roughly 5 minutes on each side or cook for 1 - 2 minutes more if you like it very well done. Each time you flip the rib, dip it back into the marinade as a glaze so that each time the rib goes back to the grill, the coconut sugar is caramelised and gives the rib a lovely glossy glaze. Continue repeatedly until the ribs are cooked. I like my ribs a little bit charred but cook it to your taste.
  5. Before your last batch of ribs are ready. Pour the marinade into a little pan and heat on medium heat to evaporate and cook the marinade until it starts to bubble and become a bit thick. Lower the heat down and serve as a sauce.
  6. Serve your ribs with the salad spooned onto the side and enjoy!