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IN the Kitchen: Keeping It Cool

IN the Kitchen: Keeping It Cool

Asian-Style Pork Riblets and Chile-Spiced Cucumbers

by Lorin Gaudin

Finger food, gently spiced, quick to prepare and served with a cool, crisp salad, is a great heat-buster and perfect late-summer meal. It is popularly believed that eating foods with a touch of chile heat helps keep our bodies cool—like air-conditioning from the inside out. Add bonus points for not needing to turn on the oven and the minimal amount of time spent at the stove! It’s all about the cool, and these dishes are the very definition of it. Packed with salt, fat, acid, heat and a little sweet, Asian style riblets and chile-spiced cucumbers are a lovely balance of texture and flavor. Play with the amounts of sweet and heat, adjusting to your taste.


  • 2 English cucumbers, sliced into 1/8- inch thick rounds
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1-1⁄2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar (optional and can sub with Swerve granulated)
  • 2 teaspoons Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Place the cucumber slices and chopped scallions in a medium or large mixing bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. Stir in sugar and salt and keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the sauce over the cucumber slices and scallions and toss. Sprinkle Korean chile flakes and sesame seeds and toss until the cucumber slices are evenly coated. Serve.

Asian-style Pork Riblets. (photo: Lorin Gaudin)


  • 3 lbs Asian style riblets
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger (jarred version is fine)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Unseasoned rice wine vinegar or regular white vinegar
  • 1⁄4 Cup brown sugar, packed (Swerve Brown Sugar can also be used for a Keto option)
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar (for use at the end of the cooking process)

Cut pork riblets into 1 to 2-inch sections, between bone segments. They should all be roughly the same size. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tablespoon neutral oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ginger and stir until golden and crispy, about 1 minute. Add pork riblets and stir until lightly browned, about 2-5 minutes.

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Add soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir until the pork riblets are
well coated. Cover and lower heat to medium low. Simmer until pork riblets are tender, about 20 – 25 minutes. Stir about halfway through cooking time to make sure the riblets are evenly coated with sauce.

Remove the lid and raise the heat to medium. There will be a lot of liquid in the pot. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, leaving a dark and sticky glaze, about 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat and immediately add remaining teaspoon rice vinegar, stir thoroughly.

Serve immediately with rice and cucumber salad.

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