Recipe: Fiery Sulawesi Pork Ribs from Fire Islands

For those who like the heat of their food to shout, not whisper

Contributed articles and stories
Subscribe to
<i>Fire Islands</i> Fiery Sulawesi pork ribs

Fire Islands Fiery Sulawesi pork ribs [©Murdoch Books]

<i>Fire Islands</i> by Eleanor Ford


 Eleanor Ford lived in Indonesia as a child where she lived a life of exploration as her architect father designed hotels in Bali and Java.

The sights, sounds and tastes of this diverse archipelago of 17-18,000 islands captivated her and she returned years later with her husband and young children so they too could absorb and enjoy a similar experience.

Fire Islands  takes you on a wondrous culinary and cultural adventure and provides plenty of unusual, yet accessible recipes that represent particular tastes of particular parts of Indonesia. It's more than a cookbook of recipes and will imparts a much deeper knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Indonesian food and culture.

This fiery recipe has been adapted to use a meat perhaps less exotic to us than that traditionally available in its home region!

Eleanor Ford writes:

If you like your food fiery, Mandano in Northern Sulawesi is the place for you. Here fragrant spices and heavy use of chilli typify the food for heat that hits you with shouts, not whispers.

As many Minahasan people are Christian (alongside a common persuasion towards blood magic), halal dietary restrictions have not shaped the cuisine. This means bush meats from rats and bats to wild boar and python fill the butchers’ markets. A little less exotic, these succulent barbecued pork ribs make a particularly good carrier for the big flavours.

Fiery Sulawesi Pork Ribs

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs

Bumbu spice paste

  • 5 small red Asian shallots, peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3–4 large red chillies, seeded
  • 5 cm (2 inches) ginger, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons dark palm sugar (gula jawa), shaved

Dabudabu dipping sauce

  • 3 tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 large red chillies, seeded and  finely sliced
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 small red Asian shallots, finely chopped
  • juice of a lime
  • 2 teaspoons dark palm sugar (gula jawa), shaved
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Roughly chop the ingredients for the bumbu, then blend to a paste in a food processor. Add a little water to help it come together, if needed. Season generously with salt and black pepper.
  • Use a small knife to remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. Smear half the bumbu into the ribs and lay them in a shallow oven dish. Cover tightly with foil and leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Roast under the foil cover for 2½ hours. Baste once or twice during cooking. The fat should have melted leaving the meat very tender.
  • Meanwhile make the dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients and taste for heat, sweetness and tang.
  • Heat a barbecue, grill or griddle pan to high heat. Grill the ribs on both sides until they start to char and caramelise, then smear over the remaining bumbu. Continue grilling until the sauce is dry and fragrant.
  • Eat with your fingers, dipping into the dabudabu as you go.

This recipe from Fire islands is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publishers.

Read more in the press release and see links below for further recipes.

Fire Islands by Eleanor Ford is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, NSW; May 2019; Hc; 240pp; RRP A$49.99). It is available for purchase directly from the publisher and from good bookshops nationally.

It can also be purchased online via »


  • Indonesia - all (ID)

Our Recommendations

To see our recommendations, ratings and reviews you must be a logged-in subscriber.

To subscribe please enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now - it's Free" box on the right and click the "Join" button, or fill in this form >

August 07th, 2019
Subscribe today - it's free
Subscribe Button

Subscribe now - for news and reviews, our newsletter (optional), to join our forums, and more.

Enter your email address and click the Subscribe button. We respect your privacy.

Log in

Enter your username...

Enter your password...

Log In Button

Forgotten your password?


Kerry's corner - your free benefits