Crispy curried lamb ribs with suspect authenticity (and slaw)

Lamb ribs

We’ve made these spicy, sweet and only slightly sticky ribs several times, adjusting the recipe (and accompaniments) as we’ve gone along. We started with something called “Chinese Style Honey Mustard Lamb Riblets” from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s 1993 Rose’s Melting Pot: A Cooking Tour of America’s Ethnic Celebrations. Beranbaum says she based her version on “the memory … [her] husband had of his favorite chicken wing dish in a Chinese restaurant in Toronto,” so we knew we were already starting fairly far afield from whatever actual Asian dish this may have been based on. We adjusted the seasonings a bit (it is a given that any recipe calling for garlic in Gourmandistan gets at least a double dose) but our major change was upgrading the meat ration by changing “riblets” to a full slab of lamb ribs. That way, you see, we get more meat.

Lamb ribs

The curry powder (at least the kind we’re currently using) gave the ribs a flavor that seemed close to the India-China border. We tried an assortment of Indian sides and enjoyed them, but thought Asian flavors seemed to work just a bit better. We’ve long liked this slaw adapted from Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook (you know: the folks who brought Americans pre-washed salad greens) for both its sort-of-Asian-by-way-of-sesame-oil “fusion” flavor and its simplicity in preparation.

Fusion coleslaw

Possibly paired with some Asian-ish potato thing (we made this delicious Japanese potato salad, without the ham), it makes a nice meal with the ribs. Is it authentic? Probably not—unless you’re a citizen of Gourmandistan.


  • Servings: 2-4, depending
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(adapted from Rose’s Melting Pot: A Cooking Tour of America’s Ethnic Celebrations)

  • 1 rack lamb ribs
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB curry powder
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • Red pepper flakes to taste

Cut the lamb into individual ribs, removing the most obvious fat and sinew. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Boil for 30 minutes, skimming from time to time.

While ribs are boiling, preheat oven to 325° F and make sauce by combining all remaining ingredients.

Drain ribs. Place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.

Spoon half the sauce on the ribs. Bake for 30 minutes.

Turn ribs and spoon remaining sauce over.  Bake for an additional 30 minutes.


(adapted from Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook)


  • 3 TB toasted sesame oil
  • 3 TB rice vinegar
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. Asian chile garlic sauce
  • 1 TB finely grated fresh ginger
  • splash of soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix dressing ingredients in a jar.  Shake.


  • about 3 c. shredded cabbage (can be red, green or Napa, or a mixture thereof)
  • 2 carrots, shredded or grated
  • a handful of thinly sliced or chopped allium (scallions, mild onions and/or garlic chives)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and slivered (optional)
  • a handful of currants or raisins
  • a handful of peanuts or cashews, roasted and cooled
  • a few TB of toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Place vegetables and currants or raisins in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat, but no more than several hours. Just before serving, add nuts and seeds.




    • Thanks, Sue. I had never cooked with them until a while back when we started buying a whole lamb each year from a neighbor. There’s not a great deal of meat on them, but they are quite tasty. So tasty, in fact, that we started buying at the farmers’ market after ours were gone!

    • Thanks, Conor! That slaw is probably the most often made salad in this household. Sometimes I throw grated Hakurei turnips in it, or radishes. It’s always good.

      • Oh, funny, I just read your comment again and see you were commenting about the spoon, not the dish. That was part of my great-grandmother’s set of flatware. They’re the strangest weight. Very light. I’m not sure what they are made of!

    • Thanks so much, Rosemary. No shortage of N.Z. lamb. But I think you’ll be surprised, once you’re settled in, that things are much better in the States than they used to be. The grocery stores are still, for the most part, gross. But there are lots of farmers raising animals well. I imagine that’s true in Pennsylvania as it is here. At least I hope so!

    • Neither had I, Shanna. And I was really dubious about doing it the first time we made the recipe. But lamb ribs, particularly those from locally raised animals, can be a little … well … tough. So it actually worked! (And that potato salad recipe I linked to was absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to make it again.)

  1. This is the 2nd lamb rib recipe I’ve come across in as many days. I’ve not seen these ribs around but I think I might be able to find them at one of the ethnic markets. They’ve surprised me in the past. Your ribs sound delicious and I’d really like to give your recipe a try, along with this slaw. I can see why it’s a favorite. Thanks for sharing.

    • I started to write that I hadn’t had them until recently either. But then I remembered I come from a part of the country (Western KY) that is famous for the fairly unusual mutton BBQ, so I probably did. I can say I didn’t cook them until a few years back when we started buying a lamb every year from a neighbor. Not much meat on there, but they’re quite tasty!

  2. The lamb ribs look finger licking good. Also sound just like tonight’s dinner here, with a random assortment of satay sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, honey and stuff. Fusion cuisine?

    • Thanks, Karen. It’s wonderful to be able to buy from neighbors. Even though, some years, the lambs have been pretty scrawny and thus a challenge to cook with. But it’s certainly better than the alternative (grocery store meat from god knows where).

  3. Michelle–Have you guys discovered the lovely tastiness of creating your own curries yet? They really add a zing to the whole experience. You could end up with the Gourmandistan House Blend. The look of those ribs are making my mouth water!

    • Funny you should ask, Janet, as we have been on an Indian kick lately and blending up spices galore. And, yes, you’re absolutely right! Though I think the retro and inauthentic nature of this dish probably calls out for the strange yellow American grocery store stuff, don’t you think? 🙂

  4. I always love your quirky titles Michelle, along with the delicious food and snaps too! Authenticity be damned, curry flavours and cabbage-slaws, just taste so darn good! BTW, I always put fish sauce in my slaw, just because it tastes awesome. Often my other half (though less adventurous,) just can’t tell!

    • Aaw, thanks, Alice. But I take no credit for those headlines: they’re all Steve’s. I know…. Often we miss out by declaring things inauthentic and rejecting them. When they might still taste mighty good! I’m definitely gonna try some fish sauce in slaw. That sounds delicious!

  5. I’m made variations of this plenty of times, but not yet with curry, brilliant idea, will add some next time soon… will definitely get some ribs in my next trip to the butchers. xx

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