Okay, so we live in Alaska, and love it, but we all need a tropical escape once in a while, don’t we!? When we can’t get to Maui, these Maui Luau Ribs, which we’ve been cooking for more than 25 years now, really help recapture the taste of our favorite island getaway. I first tasted them in my youth on Maui in 1982, when you could buy them at the Azeka’s Grocery store and grill them yourself or find them at local restaurants. The grocery store closed some years later as the property was developed into a mini mall <dang>, but the Azeka’s family opened a little take out kitchen in the same complex where you could buy their ribs cooked on certain days of the week <yay!> and you could buy them to take home and cook every day as well. In 2006 or so the family retired and closed their shop completely <tears>. They reportedly sold their marinade recipe to a Canadian company, but I have yet to see it commercially available, and I don’t think it would taste the same anyway.
Maui ribs have of course become so popular in the western part of the country that you can find them already marinated from a variety of copy-cat recipes at the butcher counter in many stores, but we like to prepare our own and get the marinade as close as possible to the original world famous “Mama Azeka’s Ribs” from Kihei, Maui! We’ve scoured the Internet in search of the original recipe, but it seems to have been kept secret still. Our recipe is simply our best guess based on the many different versions that you’ll find, and we know it works!
5+ Pounds Beef Short Ribs
1 C Aloha or Yamasa Soy Sauce (oshoyu)
1/2 C Hawaiian Cane Sugar
1/3 C Dark Sesame Oil (we like Kadoya)
4 Green Onions
1 T Crushed Fresh Garlic
1 Thinly Sliced Fresh Ginger Root (about 3 inches long)
We always go to a local butcher shop nearby that sells beef short ribs in slabs that are boneless, then we can cut them to the thickness we like ourselves. We’ve settled on the boneless variety as our favorite so you don’t end up picking out little bone fragments as you eat. You can also buy a pack of presliced (unmarinated) beef short ribs from most grocery store meat departments, usually with the little bones attached, which is fine too, we did that for years.
Prepare all of the ingredients, mix together well, and pour over the ribs in a large ziploc bag, seal tight, and leave in the refrigerator for at least one day, or up to two days. Take the ribs out of the marinade, removing excess ginger or onion if too much is on the meat, discard marinade, and grill very very slowly on a grill that is hot enough to sear the meat but not so hot that it burns the sugars! The marinade is prone to flare up, so take it easy. Serve with fresh sticky rice and fresh slices of Maui Gold Pineapple! Aloha!