This recipe is adapted from Leela Punyaratabandhu's at shesimmers.com—I adjusted it to be made in your oven, the ribs baked instead of grilled. Mehkong, a Thai spirit, isn't readily available in the United States, so Leela, and we, use rum or whisky instead. Leela is the author of Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2014). —Justin Kennedy
slabs of meaty baby back ribs, weighing between 2½ to 3 pounds each
dark rum or whisky (tequila works too)
large cloves garlic, peeled
whole white peppercorns
cilantro roots or ½ cup chopped cilantro stems
grated palm sugar or brown sugar, packed
Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving
Cut each baby back rib slab in half for easy handling. Place them in a large mixing bowl.
Blend the rum, garlic, peppercorns, cilantro roots in a blender until smooth. Pour the mixture over the ribs.
Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar to the ribs. Mix well, and then cover and chill 5 to 6 hours to overnight.
Bake the ribs, covered in foil, at 300°F degrees until the outside of the ribs look nicely caramelized and they're fork tender, approximately 2 hours. Then, uncover the ribs and adjust heat to 400°F, basting every couple of minutes, approximately 1 additional hour. (You can also grill over low coals until juices run clear when pricked with the tip of a knife.)
Cut into individual ribs. Serve with Thai sweet chili sauce.