Happy Chinese New Year! This year is dedicated to the Rabbit, which is a symbol for mercy, elegance, and worship of beauty. People born during the years 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011 are Rabbits and share the characteristics of being keen, wise, fragile, tranquil, serene, considerate, fashionable, and kind – all great qualities, and very different from myself, a Rooster.
Growing up, our house had an array of gorgeous ukiyo-e woodblock prints hanging on the wall, books about netsuke, and grasscloth wallpaper.
We had a foreign exchange student stay with us in 1985. And I would often find my mother practicing Tai Chi in the living room (at one time with a sword!)
Ya. You could say my parents have a great appreciation for Asian art.
Then there’s the food.
My mom used to prepare potstickers and egg rolls from scratch. She would also make sweet and sour chicken, always served in a beautiful turquoise ceramic bowl.
And this dish. Oh my…this dish.
It was only made when my grandparents would come for a visit. My Nan, never ever one to waste food, would lick those bones clean, not a spec of anything left on them. (She used to do that with chicken and fish bones too. Seriously, it was a talent.) The best part about this recipe is the broth. Whatever remained would be served over rice the next day for lunch. You hardly missed the pork at all, it’s so good.
I don’t make these very often because the ribs are pricey and it’s hard to find them without a lot of fat. But when I come across good quality ones, on sale, I don’t hesitate to buy some.
If you can find good quality pork spareribs at a decent price, you shouldn’t hesitate either. Thinking about my parent’s house, my grandparents, or celebrating the Chinese New Year is not a prerequisite.
Chinese Pork Ribs with Black Bean Garlic Sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
• 3 pounds pork ribs, cut across the bone (have your butcher do this), then remove as much fat as possible, and cut in between the bones into 1” pieces
• 4 tablespoons fermented black beans, finely minced*
• 3 tablespoons garlic cloves, finely minced
• 4 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry (or mirin or white wine)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 2-3 cups chicken broth
To thicken sauce:
• 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
• Broth from ribs, amount as needed
In a large pot, combine all ingredients (except broth) and mix thoroughly. Pour chicken broth over ribs until almost covered. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Cook on simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours until ribs are tender and fall off the bone.
When ribs are tender, transfer them to a big bowl with a slotted spoon. To thicken the sauce, remove about a cup of broth from the pot and transfer to a small bowl, then whisk in the cornstarch and soy sauce. Transfer the cornstarch mixture back to the pot with the remaining broth. Add the ribs back in and coat.
Serve over white rice.
*If you can’t find fermented black beans, omit them and the garlic, and substitute by using an 8 ounce jar of black bean garlic sauce.
Also, I cheat sometimes and just throw everything in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 3 1/2 hours. They don’t come out as tender, but still really good.