March 14, 2018
2 mins read

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what my favorite food was or, more specifically, my favorite dish to cook, I’d have enough cash to retire from writing this column. Lucky for you, these questions don’t result in cash rewards. Can you imagine life without my snappy repartée?

As long as I’m writing about food in order to buy food, I’ll reveal what my favorite food is right now: ribs. After spending the winter practicing veganism, I decided a little animal flesh would really hit the spot. OK, I’m lying about the veganism, because just like Patrick Henry, “Give me meat or give me death” is my creed (he did say meat, didn’t he?).

As to ribs, I’ve been enjoying these delicious gifts from the animal kingdom in many different ways as of late. Speaking of the animal kingdom, there’s a certain kind of antelope my kids like to call a Kabob-alope. This is because the animal’s horns curve way back from its head; they look like skewers. Which makes me think the antelope could just lean its head back, skewer itself and be grill-ready. Pretty darn handy.

Butchers process ribs of different animals in many different ways, depending on demand. Today, I’m going to focus on pork ribs, which are sold in three different cuts. The most popular are back ribs, because the meat-to-bone-to-fat ratio is nearly perfect. They are also quite uniform in size, especially Danish baby back ribs, which are monopolized by the restaurant industry. The next section, known as St. Louis ribs, is cut about a third of the way down the rib. The last and cheapest cut is the fattiest section-spare ribs-which have quite a bit of cartilage. Rib tips are also cut from this.

Most folks around here associate ribs with barbecue, but there are some delicious alternatives, like the Cheffed-Up Chinese version I’m sharing this week. One of the best things about this recipe? You get to use a hacksaw and show off mad wok skills. Good luck.

Chef Bill’s  

Star Anise Braised Ribs


  • 1 rack St. Louis ribs
  • 1 Spanish onion, medium dice
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 3 tbsp. grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Sambol
  • 1 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 3 oz. tamari sauce
  • 1 oz. mirin
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3 tbsp. sugar



  1. Cut the rack into individual ribs with a knife. With a hacksaw, cut each rib into three pieces.
  2. Cover ribs with cold water and bring  to a boil. Simmer for three to five  minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse.
  4. In a large wok, stir-fry ribs until they begin to brown. Add onions, white half of scallions, ginger, garlic, Sambol, cinnamon and star anise; continue to stir-fry until the ginger and garlic begin to brown.
  5. Add hot water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer; add remaining ingredients.
  6. Simmer for about 30 minutes until ribs are tender and the sauce is thickened. Add water as needed to keep the sauce from over-reducing.

Until we cook again,

Chef Bill


Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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