Jose Mier coming to you again from my desktop kitchen. One of the most popular cusines in the world of course is Chinese. Count me one of its biggest fans. Of course the term Chinese food is so vast it really doesn’t do it justice since there are so many regional variations to it from Cantonese to Szechuan and everything in between.
Cantonese style dishes, however, are probably the best known in the United States—they’re certainly what I grew up on. Staples like Sweet and Sour Pork and Almond (or Cashew) Chicken are easily found at the thousands of Chinese eateries here. However, one item always makes me happy when I see it listed on the menu: Chinese spareribs.
This dish delights me on many levels and through many senses. I love the smell of these delectable morsels—it’s got to be the addition of Chinese five spice powder and that distinct hint of anise. I love the look of them, too. There’s something visually appealing of the reddish hue these ribs have. It makes my eyes light up at the sight of them.
Then there’s the taste and “feel” of the meat as I bite into them. Apologies to American BBQ purists, but I like the pull these ribs give when I eat them. They’re not the fall-off-the-bone type U.S. Pitmasters rave about. These are cooked for shorter periods of time than their American counterparts but I don’t mine one bit. I like having to bite and pull the meat off with my teeth. It’s much more springy than US ribs and I enjoy that. The taste? Well, that’s the frosting on the cake, so to speak, since I would have enjoyed the experience from the very beginning with the smell. The taste merely confirms that I’m going to love devouring these ribs.
There are many variations on the recipe for these but you can’t go wrong with one that contains hosin sauce and five spice powder. Both of these elements give these ribs their signature sweet and spicy (as in spice, not as in heat) flavor.
Since we’re dealing with pork, we must always cook the meat thoroughly but as I said, I don’t like them falling off the bone (just my druther) so recipes that don’t call for hours of cooking are the ones I go for.
This person’s recipe on Allrecipes.com pretty much fits the bill and you can see from his (her?) list of ingredients, all marks are hit: Hoisin, Five Spice, garlic, ginger and honey among others. This cook also uses the oven’s broiler to cook the ribs. Again I think this is best since doing it on an outdoor grill would work but I would avoid getting that smoky flavor this may impart. Cooking time is about 40 minutes (plenty fast). I’ve given it a try in my own kitchen and they came out just the way I like. Sometimes it’s worth going to a Chinese restaurant or taking out from one, but this is a great way to do it yourself and save some money while curing your fix for one of my favorite Chinese dishes.