My latest New Statesman column concerns my fear of barbecues. Great food; a sense of satisfaction in producing it; too much to worry about. I might have mentioned a further reason for treating this method of cooking with caution: the current weather. It is very depressing to light the charcoal, wait 45 minutes for it all to glow, put the food on it, and watch as everything gets drenched.
I was cooking for myself at the weekend, and had found a small rack of spare ribs. The oven was the ideal place in which to cook them. I made a marinade with about 2 tsp each of nam pla (fish sauce), soy sauce, rice vinegar, and groundnut oil, along with a third of a tsp of chilli powder as well as a clove of garlic, mashed to a pulp with some salt. I poured the liquid over the ribs on a baking sheet, and baked them at gas mark 1/140 C for 30 minutes, and at gas mark S/130 C for a further 30 minutes. The soy sauce caramelises, and would burn at a higher temperature; the low heat also keeps the meat tender.
I turned off the oven, left the ribs in there for 15 minutes, and ate them with my hands.