Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or large roasting pan with aluminum foil.
Using a mortar and pestle or an electric spice mill, crush the star anise, fennel seeds and Szechuan peppercorns. Stir in the five-spice powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Put the ribs into a bowl and sprinkle over the spice mixture. I like to get my hands in and rub everything in. Place the ribs in one layer on the baking sheet or roasting pan. Put them in the oven and cook for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small pot stir together the soy sauce, olive oil, honey, chilies, garlic, lime zest and sesame seeds, if using.
When the ribs have cooked for 45 minutes, remove them from the oven and brush them with half the glaze. Sprinkle over the scallions and season well with salt and pepper. Return the ribs to the oven for 15 minutes. Bring the remaining glaze to a boil and remove it from the heat.
To serve, cut the ribs and pile them onto a big platter. Serve with the remaining glaze as a dipping sauce. I like to serve this with a large green salad and put everything in the middle of the table so everyone can help themselves.
Recipe courtesy of Lorraine Pascale