Cook This: Ketchup Packet Ribs, How To Reuse Your Ketchup Packets at Home

March 2, 2017

Despite all of Marie Kondo’s tips and tricks to leading a minimalist life, we can’t help our compulsion to hoard. May it be your A+ papers from 3rd grade or ketchup packets from your last fast food binge, all of these inexplicably find its way into the dark recesses of your home. These won’t see the light of day until 6 months later when you have a sizable stash with no foreseeable ways to reuse these. After you’ve questioned your talent for hiding things and how much fast food you’ve had recently, the question of what to do with your stash comes to mind. Let’s face it, buying a giant bag of frozen fries is a cop out and this should be nowhere near your steak—instead repurpose your ketchup packets and make yourself some ribs. (As for your 3rd grade papers, perhaps you could use them to get your summer barbecue started—can we suggest a trying our homemade smoker?).

This recipe takes the classic American ribs doused in ketchup based barbecue sauce and adds an Asian flair. By using cinnamon, star anise, and five spice, the seasoning combination lends its fragrance and spice to the bare pork. The peanut shake not only adds flavor but also a much needed crunch in contrast to the tender pork. All together, the peanuts, spices, and sauces contribute to the distinctly Asian profile of these ribs while staying true to its roots.

The procedure of this recipe is lengthy, but each step takes you closer to the best ribs you can have. By simmering the pork in aromatics, the meat takes on the flavors of the liquid while breaking it down to a tender slab of ribs. Once cooled and glazed, the slab is roasted to break it down further to crisp up the edges, and to turn the glaze into the familiar sticky mess of barbecue. A great way to finally use up all those ketchup packets you’ve saved up.

Ketchup Packet Ribs

Yield: 3 portions
Time: 4 hours

Ingredients: Ribs

  • 1kg pork belly with ribs connected (not rashers)
  • 1 pc onion, halved
  • 5 pcs garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 3 pcs star anise
  • 1 pc ginger, size of your thumb
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 liters water

Ingredients: Glaze

  • 1 cup ketchup, number of packets will depend on size
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp five spice powder

Ingredients: Chili Peanut Shake

  • 2 tbsp chili flakes
  • ¼ cup peanuts, toasted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp salt


  1. Place all the rib ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer.
  2. Skim any foam that forms on top of the broth.
  3. Simmer till meat is soft but doesn’t quite fall of the bone. Around 1.5 to 2 hours
  4. When ribs are tender, remove from the water and place on a tray. Allow to cool.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, trim off the skin of the belly as this will be rubbery once glazed.

Procedure: Glaze

  1. While ribs are simmering, cut open ketchup packets and pour into measuring cup till you end up with one cup’s worth.
  2. Place into a pot, and add all other glaze ingredients.
  3. Mix and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for at least an hour to let flavors meld.

Procedure: Chili Peanut Shake

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat and add the chili flakes.
  2. Toss flakes on hot pan till toasted and you smell a smoky aroma coming off the chili.
  3. Place peanuts and toasted chili flakes in a food processor and pulse until crushed. Do not turn on high or your mixture will turn into peanut butter.
  4. Mix with sugar and salt.

Procedure: Glazing pork

  1. Bring up oven to 150˚C.
  2. Coat pork in glaze and place in oven till and pork warms through, around 45 minutes depending on size of pork ribs.
  3. Bring up oven to 200˚C and cook until glaze caramelizes.
  4. Serve with rice and garnish with chili peanut shake.
Bernice Escobar SEE AUTHOR Bernice Escobar

Bernice loves to get nerdy about food and making people hungry. In her free time, she attempts to play with her anti-social cat and fantasizes about all things sweet.

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