BBQ Maui Ribs, Azeka Market Style

June 16, 2015
2 Ratings
  • Prep time 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

For many years Azeka's market in Maui sold the most amazing ribs, Korean kalbi style. They would hand you a plastic bag with ribs, soaking in a tangy, sweet sauce. Finally, in an old Maui cookbook, I found an "alleged" recipe from the market, which has sadly closed. I played around with the recipe and tried them out on my family who used lived on Maui with great success. The secret is in the grated pear and long marinating time. It tenderizes the meat and the pear adds a subtle flavor. These ribs are truly special and I'm happy to be able to attempt to recreate them! —Leith Devine

What You'll Need
  • 5 pounds beef crosscut (flanken style) ribs
  • 3 cups dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup grated Asian pear
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons crushed ginger
  • 8 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  1. Make the marinade: In a large bowl or plastic bag, mix together dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, and grated pear. The pear tenderizes the ribs and adds some sweetness. Add brown sugar and mix until dissolved. Add garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and half of the chopped green onions, and then add ribs or pour over if using a bowl. I like using freezer style zip top bags because they're sturdy and can be easily turned while marinating.
  2. Marinate as long as possible! I like making the marinade on Friday and cooking the ribs on Sunday. Try for at least 6-8 hours minimum.
  3. Cook ribs over a medium grill for approximately 4 minutes per side. Don't overcook! These ribs are thin and cook fast. They can still be pink inside.
  4. Toast sesame seeds in a small frying pan until brown. Watch carefully, they can go from brown to burnt quickly.
  5. Boil the marinade and serve the ribs, sprinkled with remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Boil any remaining marinade to serve on the side for white rice.
  6. Best served with sound of waves in the background!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • dymnyno
  • Keith Madden
    Keith Madden
  • Leith Devine
    Leith Devine
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Jon Stadille
    Jon Stadille

32 Reviews

Foodie July 6, 2023
For over 30 yrs our family would go to Maui and stay at the Hale Pau Hana in Kihei. Azeka Ribs was a local treat for years until most of the tourists got wind of the ribs. We would even have them shipped on ice to the mainland. Then the market sold and the tradition was dropped by the new owners. When you cook with this recipe the secret is the ASIAN PEAR !! If you use another type of pear it will not taste the same and trust me I tried. You just want to suck on the bone too! ENJOY !
supernova February 28, 2018
@ dymnyo Azeka Market was the mom & pop grocery store that had an outside counter where the cooked ribs and other plate lunches were sold. It was located in what is now Ace Hardware. It was the anchor store for that shopping center and thus the namesake. After the grocery store closed, the counter remained open for a few more years, but eventually closed as well.
Jon S. August 20, 2019
This is NOT the recipe. I got it from Mr. Azeka personally! Truth
Leith D. August 20, 2019
I know, the title says Azeka Market Style :) I'd love to make his recipe though Jon S, please please print it!
Jon S. August 9, 2020
5lbs brown sugar
10lbs white sugar
8 Oz skin in garlic
18 Oz fresh ginger
1 gallon Aloha Soy
1 more gal Aloha Soy
Leith D. August 9, 2020
How many pounds of ribs is that for? A lot, presumably! Need to know so I can scale it down.
Jon S. August 10, 2020
The key to the recipe is actually the technique. Using a large pot smash the garlic and the ginger skin on in a plastic bag and put it in the pot with the sugar. Bring to a boil and let it rise to the top of a very large pot. You’re actually brewing and caramelizing the sugar. Let it rise to the surface three times and then let the liquid sit for a couple of hours to cool. Strain before using. Add the other gallon of soy if you think it’s too sweet. I like mine very sweet.
Leith D. August 10, 2020
I can't wait to try it, I want to know how much meat is used in the above recipe so I can scale it down. That's a lot of marinade!
Leith D. April 24, 2023
I remember going to the counter and getting plastic bags of ribs and marinade.
Foodie July 6, 2023
Jon S No way my love. that's not it.
Leith D. July 6, 2023
You gave me your recipe already, I haven’t made it yet!
Erica November 17, 2017
Is there any way this marinade might be used in a slow cooker? What cut of beef would you use? Or is it the grilling that elevates the party? This makes me so sad - when I lived on Maui 25 yrs ago I was a vegetarian!
Leith D. November 17, 2017
I'm sure you could, I'd try it with short ribs. The grill is great because it caramelizes the marinade, so after you remove the meat from the slow cooker put them under the broiler to get that "browned" flavor. It's great with chicken too, I've tried it! I love Maui :)
David September 23, 2017
Ever tried with boneless short ribs? Just as good?

Leith D. September 23, 2017
No I haven't but I bet they would be amazing! Let me know if you try it out!
David September 23, 2017
Will do. Love the recipe. Reminds me of Maui.

Leith D. September 23, 2017
Same! One of my favorite places.
dymnyno October 5, 2015
There is no such place as the Azeka Market. There is the Azeka Shopping Center(Mauka and Makai) where there was a rib shack that closed about 8 years ago
Leith D. December 22, 2015
I realize the rib shack is closed; I think these ribs are a great substitute for the original recipe.
Marcy April 24, 2023
Actually there WAS an Azekas market, the family owned a grocery and the surrounding lands. Really old timers will tell you about the monkey in the cage behind the market! Newer folks only know the shopping center they built later.
Keith M. July 2, 2015
i lived in Kihei for 3 years in the 80's and Maui Ribs were a staple at every cook-out and were always a treat. I will never forget them and can't wait to try out this recipe this weekend.
Leith D. July 2, 2015
I hope you love them as much as I do!
Jon S. August 10, 2020
We serve them exclusively in the downstairs bar only at Kimos
L July 2, 2015
It's Da Bomb ONO Stuff....
Leith D. July 2, 2015
High praise! I'm glad you liked them.
Leith D. June 19, 2015
dymnyo, I haven't looked up your recipe or Googled it either. My sister in law lived on Maui for many years, and we liked to go the swap meet. I found the cookbook there and have been making these ever since.
Leith D. June 19, 2015
I just looked at your recipe, and it's different from mine. I've never used Coke but it's an interesting idea. I didn't know about the bottled sauce because I make the marinade myself.
dymnyno June 19, 2015
Really?...I know this recipe is great because I entered my own version with an original twist when I first entered it in 2011 and have been making it since the late 90's.
dymnyno June 19, 2015
Also, they sell the sauce in markets on Maui....ingredients are on the bottle. Old Maui cookbook...if you google Azeka ribs, another way to get the original ingredients.
Leith D. June 17, 2015
They really are great! Try them and let me know what you think.
sexyLAMBCHOPx June 17, 2015
looks delicious!
Leith D. June 27, 2015
Thank you!