As I am sitting here busily typing away, there are three happy bellies busily doing their jobs in this room. There would’ve been a fourth if my sister isn’t down with the hateful stomach flu. Indeed, I love Chinese food. Who doesn’t? Well, the good ones at least. Take a close look at the Sweet and Sour Ribs we had for dinner and tell me it isn’t good.
Ribs is kind of a lie here. See, they are country ribs, which is just an euphemism for “HUGE chunk of meat attached to one small chunk of bone.” So I cut each huge chunk into smaller but still sizable chunks. The result was big tender pieces of meat to fully sink your teeth into. The sauce is sweet and tangy and contains all the good meatiness from simmering the meat. The lightly stir-fried greens provide the perfect crispness and cut into the grease of meat. (So we can have an excuse to eat more) Even the rice was good (once soaked with sauce). And I’m not much of a rice person usually.
This version does not involve any deep frying and is relatively healthy, which makes me happy since a lot of other recipes out there call for a cup of oil absorbed into the ribs (wholly unnecessary in my opinion). It bogs down the dish and adds to your waistline. Not this one!
I won’t hog this goodness all to my self. Here’s the recipe.
Sweet and Sour Ribs (糖醋排骨 Tang Cu Pai Gu)
inspired by Steamy Kitchen
(makes 4 generous servings)
2 pounds meaty country or spare ribs, cut into chunks (baby-back ribs are also good)
about 9 slices of ginger, 1/8 in. thick, cut 3 slices into strips
4 green onions, cut into 2-inch sections, divided, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine, divided
generous pinch of salt
about 10 szechuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoon dark soy sauce (I used light because I didn’t have dark on hand, it would give a redder appearance)
4 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
In a large saucepan, submerge ribs in water and bring to a boil. Skim off the gunky stuff that floats to the top. Add the peppercorns, salt, 1 Tbsp. of rice wine half the green onions, and the 6 slices of ginger. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender. Save one cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest.
In a large wok or frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp. of oil until fairly hot, add remaining ginger and green onions and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ribs to the pan and fry on medium high heat, for a few minutes, until lightly browned. Add soy sauce, sugar, remaining rice wine, and reserved cooking liquid. Reduce the sauce on medium heat while spooning it over the rib pieces continuously, for about 20 minutes, or until sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Add the garlic and black vinegar and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until the sauce is sticky. Turn off the heat and drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with green onions.
Don’t forget to prepare some rice to soak up all the yummy sauce!