As you can see, today’s blog is a milestone of sorts—#100. We have been publishing our Covid-19 Cooking Lessons since March. Never in a million years did we imagine that the pandemic would disrupt our society for so long. We originally started blogging to keep our people busy and so that Joan and I wouldn’t go crazy walking around empty offices. We thought that many people stuck at home would be both entertained and gain new interest and insight into foods they eat. As safety conditions continue to be fluid, we want our blogs to focus on your changing needs no matter where you live or the conditions in your geographic area.
We built our million dollar 3000-square foot product development center consisting of our test kitchens, pilot plant, chocolate development center and the back-of-the-box home kitchen. Each area has a specific purpose. This is where it all starts… where formulae and recipes are first developed and tested by our chefs and home economists. In the pilot plant we scale up recipes (larger batches) to more closely mimic how they will perform in larger batch production conditions. The back-of-the-box kitchen is where we develop new recipes (like this one) for home use. The chocolate development center is where new confections and desserts are imagined.
One of the things we’ve heard lately, for the first time in nearly 3 generations, is that mothers and dads are taking the time to teach their children to cook (and some are learning themselves in doing so). So, occasionally, we like to combine a recipe with a craft project to help create a tasty teachable moment. We also try to incorporate a little history of where and how the recipe originated. We hope you will “stay tuned.”
So, for the 100th time we ask, “How you doin’?” The thing about being in a semi-lockdown in Los Angeles is it gives you lots of time to reminisce about favorite restaurants and meals from days gone by.
There once was a restaurant called Kelbo’s in West Los Angeles, and they had the absolute best Polynesian ribs—better than Trader Vic’s or Don The Beachcomber. Kelbo’s was kitschy and fun and smelled great from the moment you walked in the door. That said, Kelbo’s was all about the sticky, red, island ribs and great Polynesian “frou-frou” drinks.
When I opened my first south seas-style waterfront restaurant in Foster City, California I wanted to serve ribs just like Kelbo’s. I offered to buy the recipe from Jack, but no dice. I even tried to bribe one of the cooks, but he was having none of it. We must have flown back and forth for two or three months with a couple of our chefs tasting the Kelbo’s secret recipe ribs. Why was this so damn hard to duplicate? We made ribs in the test kitchen for a year before I thought our ribs were good enough to put on the menu. I called them, $100,000 China Red Ribs, because I spent that much money to duplicate them. It may not have been a dead match for Kelbo’s, but it was certainly very close. If love ribs, you’ll love these.
Kelbo’s was a big deal back then. I’ve read on other blogs that people who remember Kelbo’s would like to have those wonderful ribs again. The owners’ families have stuck fast to not sharing their recipe. But I am happy to share my original bulk recipe for the thick, sticky, caught under your fingernails sweet red ribs we served. Feel free to reduce the recipe for your needs or bottle some sauce for your friends.
Prep time Sauce: 20 minutes
Cook time Sauce: 30 minutes
Prep time Ribs: 10 minutes
1st Cook time Ribs: 50 minutes
2nd Cook time Ribs: 7-10 minutes
Yield Sauce: 3 quarts
For the sauce
4 cups soy sauce
1-1/4 cups sherry wine
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1-1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon five-spice seasoning
2 teaspoons Wright’s liquid smoke (it’s got to be Wright’s)
For the ribs
As many as you need--trimmed out St Louis-cut ribs
To make the sauce
To cook the ribs
ChefSecret: To get these ribs just so, there is the recipe and then there is the talent of the chef. I always consider these ribs an artform and that leaves room for a lot of creativity on how the ribs are cooked. The Kelbo’s formula was to get them thick and sticky—where the glaze gets stuck under your fingernails. When I am cooking these at home in a non-commercial oven, I will dip the ribs 3 or 4 times to build-up the thick, sticky glaze that I like.
Eat Healthfully, Stay Fit, and Above All, Have Fun In The Kitchen
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “Mask not what your country can do for you. Mask what you can do for your country.” In short, Wear A Mask!
Do you have a question or comment, want to share a favorite recipe or pictures? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find these blog posts at https://www.perspectives-la.com/covid-19-survival-guide.
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