Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cooking: Braised Pork Ribs (adapted from Tigerfish's recipe)

A few days ago, I noticed an intriguing post from Teczcape's (aka Tigerfish) foodie blog. Mouthwatering pictures of pork ribs. Yum! Justyn was the king of making ribs but his were very different from Teczcape's. I'm an avid aZn food lover (duh I'm Chinese) and her ribs immediately inspired me to make the dish.

Since Justyn was out of town for a week I wanted to do something special for him. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what I wanted to buy for him. What better than home cooking? I know after my trip to Westford, MA I had a major hankering for homemade foods. I posted a bunch of comments on Teczcape's blog asking for ingrediant and cooking advice. Unfortunately, I hadn't planned well. That was partially due to my laziness because I didn't want to bust out the slow cooker and have to clean it after cooking. Instead, I opted for my dutch oven. Teczcape told me that she wasn't sure it would work since the ribs were supposed to be either steamed or slow cooked, not braised. Well crap..

I decided to stick with my plan despite my doubts and marinated the pork ribs in a combination of rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch and sugar. I dissolved the cornstarch and sugar in the rice wine and soy sauce first. Then I put the pork ribs (which were cut into chunks by the meat guy at Marina market) into a ziplock baggie along with the marinade and mashed it around until the meat was coated. I had plenty of time to kill before picking up Justyn at the airport (at 1:30am eek!) so into the fridge the marinating ribs went for an hour.

While the ribs were marinating, I decided to watch some TV. Unfortunately, the DVR was broken so I spent a good part of the hour with Comcast support trying to get the stupid thing to work. At least it killed some time and the issue got fixed. The timer on the microwave beeped and I took the ribs out.

I sliced some peeled ginger, chopped some garlic and pickled red pepper. I mashed up the brown soy beans per Teczcape's directions and sauteed them in a small sauce pan until the ingrediants were fragrant. I was supposed to add the dark vinegar and sesame oil to the pan as well but it wasn't clearly indicated.

I whipped out my dutch oven, turned the stove onto medium high heat and added some veggie oil. Once it came to temp, I added the marinated pork ribs to sear them. What a disaster. Since there was cornstarch in the marinade, the pork stuck to the bottom of the pot and started to turn a dark dark brown. That's not good. The house started to smell like burn. Ugh. I tore the pork ribs out and put them onto some foil so I could deglaze. More like, getting the burnt crap off my beloved dutch oven. I added a few liberal splashes of rice wine. That seemed to do the trick. After the booze evaporated, I added a can of beef broth while scrapping the bottom. Whew, everything came off!

I then added the brown bean mixture and added the ribs back while the broth was at a quick simmer. Dammit, I forgot about the vinegar. I added that and completely forgot to put sesame seed oil in. Oh well. I was a little frustrated at this point and I just wanted the damn thing to be done with. I gave everything a quick stir and dropped the heat down to a low simmer. I set the microwave timer to 90 minutes and watched TV (Top Chef woot!).

90 minutes passed by and I gave the meat and "gravy" a try. I expected to be let down, but nope... it was good.. DAMN good. I was so proud of myself that I almost did a little jig in the kitchen. The "gravy" had thickened due to the cornstarch so I added a splash of water. The whole thing was a bit on the oily side, but I could always scoop it out later. I gave it a stir and simmered it for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, I prepped some gai lan (chinese broccoli, incidentally Justyn's favorite aZn green) and boiled it for 4 minutes. I drained the greens and made some Japanese sticky rice.

By the time the rice was done and greens were drained, I was ready to plate. I don't give a crap if molding my rice into a cute dome is bad luck. I wanted this dish to be pretty. I packed some rice in a small chawan (Japanese rice bowl) and inverted it onto my plate in one corner. Then I put about 4 pork ribs and drizzled the yummy sauce over it and some of the rice. I laid some gai lan on the plate and cut them into three pieces. Gai lan is normally served with oyster sauce and sesame seed oil. To complete my presentation, I dumped some oyster sauce in a ziplock bag and made a small cut in the bottom corner (make shift pastry icing thingy). I delicately made a zig zag oyster sauce pattern on the greens and shook a little toasted sesame seed on them. Neato!

Time to get my eat on. Ladies and gents, I present to you my version of Teczcape's slow cooked pork ribs. Despite my blunders, the meat came out tender and juicy. The sauce was an absolute delight with a nice salty, spicy and sweet background. Is your mouth watering yet? It should!

Thanks Tigerfishy for posting this recipe and giving me much needed advice. Next time, I'll follow your directions better and not try to be all bad ass n shit. Hehe!


tigerfish said...

They turn out tender and juicy and I hope you like it. I do agree with you on the combination of savory, sweet, spice, very different from those Western BBQ ribs. If you steam or slow cook, there will be no "burnt" problem to handle, and even stress-free! I think you will even love the stress-free version more. The oil should be because of the pork ribs natural fats - did you add in any oil? There's no need to.

Your ribs are "on the dark side" though(color, I mean). I know they are not evil. ;p

JadedOne said...

Hehe yeah next time I'm going to follow your recipe very strictly and use the slow cooker. No more being lazy here. I did add vegetable oil while I was "searing" the ribs. I stuck the leftovers in a tupperware and into the fridge. The next morning I just scooped all the fat out. No biggie.

Haha yeah they're much darker than yours, but still very tasty! :)