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Brown sugar and soy sauce glazed ribs…and a peculiar encounter

Nowadays, everybody is up to honing their social etiquette and relational networking that it’s rare to be bluntly rejected or disliked upfront in a social context anymore. But I got to experience some of that firsthand in a most unexpected way this week.

Having gotten engaged last December and feeling the heat on wedding planning anxiety recently, I started hunting for a suitable wedding photographer this month. After painstakingly researching different photography styles and getting lost in various wedding photography blogs, my fiance and I eventually narrowed our choices to a manageable list. It is no easy task, by the way, picking a wedding photographer, that is. You are shelling out thousands of dollars on one service and one person, and with my artsy background and my fiance’s dabbling in photography himself, our standards are pretty high. Anyhow, I finally got to the stage of calling and meeting various potential photographers this week. The first in line was a photographer stationed around town who asked to have a phone conversation to get to know each other.

Okay, calling a complete stranger and telling them every detail of your engagement and your love story, all in an overly cheery and enthusiastic voice with lots of “oh my gosh” and “oh yay”, sounds like a new experience outside my usual comfort zone. But that’s fine, all in the name of luve, right? So I got on the phone with this person, and you know, it wasn’t bad at all. After I told him my vision for the wedding decor and photography style, he was echoing my opinions left and right as if we found a perfect match. Then I asked him a bunch of questions about the package he offered, and he ended the call by promising me a follow up email with details of the package we had discussed. I was somewhat relieved, since the offer was affordable and I actually liked his portfolio. Maybe this was it…

…Until 15 minutes later, I got an email from him with a funny title. I read through the content, and words like “not a good fit” and “choose another photographer” jumped out at me, and I had to re-read the email multiple times, before realization hit me that I just got rejected, as a client. WHAT just happened? I thought we had a good connection. I felt cheated and confused, especially when there was no mention of specific reasons in the email for the change in attitude. Moreover, I felt a personal shame and responsibility for what had happened, as if it was somehow my fault that they did not like me. I ensued to call my fiance and other people, complaining and wallowing in my pitiful state, and it took a good hour before I regained my ground and came to terms with the fact that somebody out there does not like me.

After ruminating over the issue, I guess it isn’t totally unreasonable to be selective about clients when you are a popular wedding vendor and pick those who are “good fits”, whatever that means. And maybe I do have to learn to be comfortable with the thought that I can’t make everyone I interact with to like me. Maybe it’s a part of identity re-focusing and growing up.

Brown sugar and soy sauce glazed ribs

So as a form of stress relief, I went to my natural remedy- food. More specifically, meats. I wanted to cook a big honking slab of meat, just for myself. And ribs was a natural choice. I marinated it with an sweet and spicy rub of brown sugar and chili flakes and then baked it in an Asian sauce learned from my mom’s kitchen. The meat came out super tender and moist, and the rest was history.

Brown sugar and soy sauce glazed ribs2

Brown Sugar and Soy Sauce Glazed Ribs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print


  • pork ribs
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp salt and pepper
  • 5 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp cooking sherry
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

Defrost the ribs. Mix together the dry ingredients (brown sugar, chili flake, salt and pepper) and rub over all surfaces of the ribs. Wrap ribs in aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the wet ingredients (soy sauce, honey, cooking sherry, vinegar, water, garlic) and pour the marinade over the ribs. Make sure to completely seal the ribs with aluminum foil so that no air can pass into the aluminum foil pockets. The airtight seal will ensure moisture lock in when ribs are roasted.

Roast for 1.5 to 2 hours, until meat is tender and falling off the bone.


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