The weather is cold and rainy here in Vancouver which makes me crave fatty, rich foods. I’m trying to cut back on such things and convinced myself that this recipe would be better than some others I was considering. Somehow, smaller pieces of food equate to healthy cooking (I know, I’m crazy) — ah well, it satisfied my craving even if I did eat a few more pieces than I should have.
I wish the photo had turned out better as I don’t think it does them justice. The photo looks like a pile of brown poo (but, I swear they are delicious *and* easy to make).
My craving stems from a sticky rib recipe that I made a few months ago but never posted. And, as per usual, I lost track of the recipe during our move. I remember finding a few that I liked online and in my cookbooks but none of them looked familiar this time. I think I made a hybrid recipe before (handwritten on a scrap of paper now in a recycling facility somewhere) so figured I’d give it a go this time as well. I scribbled down my ingredient list and headed out shopping.
My shopping was moving along quickly until the metric system decided to challenge me at the meat counter. The odd thing is, I’ve been to a number of grocery stores lately and each one seems to vary in how they weigh their meat. Some do Pounds while others do Grams — and some like to totally mess with me by doing pre-packaged meat in Grams while doing the meat counter in Pounds. I’m learning through immersion (and the help of my iPhone metric conversion app) to figure out how to buy items by weight. I’ll be a better person for it. :-)
I purchased 1 kg (~2lbs) package of pork spare ribs that were ‘sweet and sour cut’. This means that they were cut lengthwise to create a strip of ribs about 2″ wide. In the states, I found them listed as ‘Chinese-style ribs’. Of course, you can always purchase your own spare ribs and whack away to achieve the desired smaller size. Or, you can say ‘screw it’ and leave the spare ribs full-size (but based on my logic, this would not be as healthy).
The recipe is easy to make and results in tender sticky ribs that go perfectly with steamed rice and a green veggie of your choice. I served them with blanched Gai Lan, a variety of Chinese broccoli.
Chinese Braised Ribs
2lbs Pork Spare Ribs cut in 1″ x 2″ pieces
2 tablespoons canola or other light oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce (or just regular soy sauce)
1 1/4 cup white wine (or rice wine)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
2 Tablespoons golden syrup (or honey)
If the spare ribs are still connected in a long strip, use a knife to slice between each bone. The result should be small rib sections that are approximately 1″ by 2″.
Heat a large pan or dutch oven with oil. Add ribs and brown on all sides, about 3-5 minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Check periodically to make sure their is enough moisture and add a bit of water if it becomes dry (but it shouldn’t).
Remove cover and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced to a thick, sticky glaze (about 10-15 minutes). If your ribs are very fatty, you may wish to skim off some of the excess fat during this last 15 minutes. I was able to easily skim off about a 1/2 cup of fat — wow!
Remember to keep an eye on it as the liquid reduces so that it doesn’t burn. Stir every couple of minutes. In the last few minutes, the reduction happens very quickly so don’t walk away from the stove. It’s that simple.
In honor of my Australian friends, I used a bit of golden syrup as my sweetener. The syrup is not common in the states and I had to seek out an Australian products store in order to buy it (I used it to make ANZAC Biscuits). It is so delicious — I literally love to eat it with a spoon! It’s thick and has a deep richness, but not as strong as say molasses. I love my little jar of golden syrup so much that I packed it up and moved it to Vancouver. Fortunately, golden syrup is common here in Canada so I will have a bountiful supply.
Anyway, I digress — back to the ribs! The braised ribs turn out tender and slightly sweet with an undertone of the salty caramelized soy sauce. The garlic and ginger round out the flavor making it difficult to eat a reasonably sized portion.
The recipe is pretty good but it’s not *great* — I think my other recipe may have used a bit of hoisin sauce. I’ll have to keep experimenting and see if I can figure it out :-)