It’s a very long time since I studied economics. One of its cornerstones is the law of supply and demand. Simply put, it states that as demand increases the price does likewise. This then encourages new market entrants which increase supply, bringing the price back to where it started. In macroeconomic terms, this works pretty well. In the tiny world of retail that I occupy, this law doesn’t apply. So often, I have my enquiries rebuffed by slovenly sales staff with “No, there’s no demand for them.” or the one that really boils my ageing blood “No, there’s no demand for them any more.”. If I were looking for something like a set of E-180 cassettes or a pair of long johns with a trapdoor, I might not find this so upsetting. But, when I’m looking for lamb ribs in a butcher’s shop, I get pretty irate. “We used to sell them but it’s only the Chinese who eat them now.” was what the spotty youth in fancy dress said to me.
That one sentence managed to convey three things to me. He has racist leanings. Despite the garb, he is no butcher. And lastly, but not least importantly, he is no economist either. I left and rang a friend who is a butcher. He confirmed what we know. The ribs are on sale in some Asian restaurants. Not many people ask for them in Irish butchers. There is a market opportunity. So, for all you real butchers (and your customers), here’s a simple recipe for Asian Style Lamb Ribs.
- 12 lamb riblets (presented in twins, as in the photo).
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (heaped) of dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (level) of oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon (level) of tomato paste
Mix all the ingredients except the lamb in a large saucepan.
Heat until boiling. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce gets nice and thick.
Turn off the heat and add the ribs. Let them marinate in the marinade for a couple of hours.
Heat an oven to 200ºC. Add the ribs on a rack and cook for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting into individual ribs and serving with some sliced chilli.
These fantastic little ribs are a real treat. You have to get your hands on them. If you have a real butcher, he or she will be happy to sell you some at a great value price. If, when you ask, all you get is a blank stare and a stupid answer, get yourself out of there and find a real butcher. There are still a few of them around.
Footnote for butchers: The laws of supply and demand suggest that if you display these, there will be some demand. Hopefully, you can capitalise on that demand and supply your customers with something they want and can’t get from the futchers (fake butchers).
Footnote for butchers’ customers: Get your butcher to read the footnote above. They will stock the ribs. You should buy them. They are really fantastically delicious (said he, modestly).