Meat on the Bone

The phrase “meat on the bones” is often used metaphorically to mean substance or value. But this post is about ‘Meat on the Bone’ literally.

Meat on the bone, also called bone-in meat is meat that is sold with some or all of the bones included in the cut or portion, i.e. meat that has not been filleted. And one example of meat on the bone is ribs.

Ribs are a cut of meat. The term ribs usually refers to the less meaty part of the chops, often cooked as a slab (not cut into separate ribs). They can be roasted, grilled, baked, braised or smoked A set of ribs served together (5 or more), is known as a rack (as in a rack of ribs).

Short ribs (UK cut: Thin Rib) (Commonly known in UK as ‘Jacob’s ladder) are a popular cut of beef. Spare ribs are the most inexpensive cut of ribs. They are are taken from the belly side of the cattle’s rib cage above the sternum (breast bone) behind the shoulder, and include 11 to 13 long bones.

Why Cooking Beef Ribs?

Beef rib is great in size and great in flavor. It is a versatile and delicious source of protein.

And last Monday, while I was reading a local cooking magazine named ‘Sedap’ an interesting recipe with mouth watering photo of ‘Iga Cobek’ caught my eyes. ‘Iga Cobek’ literally can be translated as ‘Beef Ribs in a Mortar’.

The photo of Iga Cobek in the magazine was so alluring and the recipe did not seem difficult so I decided to give it a try. I went to the neighborhood meat shop to buy the ribs and other necessary ingredients.

So far, I did not dare trying to cook Iga Cobek  because it looks so complicated. But the look of Iga Cobek was so intriguing that I forced myself to try it.

Whenever I tried a recipe for the first time, I tend to follow it to the letter….. yet with a bit of modification. After I tried out cooking Iga Cobek, I found out that it was not as intimidating as I imagined.

Here’s my version of ‘Iga Cobek’ (Beef Ribs in a Mortar)


  • 500 gram beef short ribs
  • 2 cm ginger, bruised
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 salam leaf, 5 kaffir lime leaves, take out the bone
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass, the white part only, bruised
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind sauce
  • cooking oil

Ingredients for the Spice-paste:

  • 8 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cm turmeric, 2 cm ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3 candle nuts

Ingredients for Sambal Terasi (Shrimp-paste Sambal)

  • 5 shallots
  • 8 finger-length red chilies
  • 5 red bird’s eye chilies
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp-paste
  • 1 tomato, cut into 4
  • salt to taste

Vegetables for the Side Dish

  • Cucumber, cut into 8
  • lemon basil
  • white cabbage

Step by Step to cook Iga Cobek:

  • cook the ribs in water until tender (approx one hour or cook in presto cooker for about 15 minutes).
  • Remove the ribs
  • Put back the broth (around 250 ml) on medium heat
  • Add in the salam leaf, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, salt, pepper and palm sugar and continue to cook until boiling
  • Put back the ribs into the pan, add in coconut milk, simmer
  • Add in the tamarind sauce and cook some more minutes until the liquid is evaporated

  • Remove the ribs from pan, fry  in  hot oil until crispy.
  • Set aside

  • fry  all of the Sambal Terasi ingredients until soft, stir during frying

  • Grind the Sambal Terasi ingredients using mortar and pestle

  •   Arrange the vegetables on a clay mortar like dish:

  • Put the Sambal Terasi on the ‘Cabbage Cup’

  • Press the fried  ribs onto the Sambal Terasi

Serve warm with Rice



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