There’s no doubt that some of the best tasting rib dishes in the world come from the American South but I think the Chinese run a close second. They seem to understand pork and relish it for all it’s fatty, juicy goodness and pork belly along with ribs are right up there on their top 20 list of dishes. These ribs are meltingly tender and so tasty. They’re braised slowly for a few hours in a sauce of soy, black beans, garlic, ginger, and some sugar to bring in a sweet note to counteract the savouriness of the black beans and soy. Once again it’s one of those braises that’s very quick to put together but it needs a while in the oven – for me that qualifies as an easy meal as my involvement is minimal. I made this dish in my Chinese clay pot which I love and which you can buy at Asian supermarkets for about $15. But you can also braise this in a regular oven proof baking dish which has a lid or a dutch oven. All you need to accompany this is some steamed rice, a few bibs and a big plate for all the sucked clean bones.
Ingredients – Serves 4
1½kg, meaty pork spare ribs (American style ribs), cut into individual ribs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 long red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
6 spring onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons fermented black beans
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup tomato ketchup
1 cup water
1 long red chilli sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 spring onions cut into thin long strips
Preheat oven to 160C (unless you’re cooking the ribs in a clay pot, in which case you will need to place the pot into a cold oven and then turn the heat on, this prevents the clay pot from cracking). Heat a large non stick fry pan over medium hight heat. When hot, add the oil and sear the pork ribs in batches until lightly coloured. As the pork ribs are cooked remove them and put them in your braising dish. To the remaining oil in the pan add the red chilli, spring onions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the black beans, dark soy, light soy, rice wine, sugar, ketchup and water. Bring to the boil and pour over the pork ribs.
Cover the ribs tightly and place in the oven for 3-4 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Remove the ribs from the oven and place on a deep platter. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning by adding more soy or sugar and if the sauce is too thin reduce it by simmering it uncovered over medium heat. Pour the sauce over the ribs and top with the garnishes.