This is my father's specialty—and the single thing he knows how to cook in the world. Growing up in the South, we were surrounded by American families who fed us sweet and saucy baby back ribs, but in our own home, my dad liked his ribs super simple: salt, pepper, grilled. Nothing else. Maybe a dish of sesame oil on the side for dipping. We'd eat these bare-bones ribs with white rice and a spicy scallion salad my mother would prepare—but for the most part, the star of the night was, indelibly, the ribs. What happens when you don't sauce your baby back ribs? Beautiful things, like: 1) You can actually taste the pork and appreciate its gamey flavor and 2) There's no low-and-slow cooking here whatsoever; these ribs grill up hot and fast, perfect for lazy summer weekends with the fam.
For the scallion salad in the photograph, I like this recipe: https://www.koreanbapsang.com/pa-muchim-scallion-salad/ —Eric Kim
Salt and pepper the ribs liberally, then throw them onto a hot grill until slightly charred on the outside and cooked through (the pork should have an internal temperature of 145°F). Enjoy with white rice and an ice-cold beer.
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.