Chinese Spare Ribs
Amazingly tender Chinese ribs cooked in a pressure cooker. The pork ribs recipe is flavoured with the likes of star anise, Szechuan pepper and rich soy sauce.
I used to frequent a Chinese restaurant that made these, and it was the one dish on their menu that I could never forgo. The chef wouldn’t give me a definitive recipe, so I have endured much trial and error in trying to recreate it. The one thing he did tell me was that the ribs are simmered for 7 hours. The pressure cooker cuts this down to 30 minutes. In fact, to cook ribs until tender only takes about 15 minutes in the pressure cooker, but to do this dish justice, you need to cook them for longer, until the bones themselves seem soft enough to eat and the meat is yielding and unctuous. An added bonus is the sauce – if you have any left over, it keeps for a while in the fridge (a layer of fat will form on top and act as preservative) and works very well as a dipping sauce.
|2 tbsp||vegetable oil|
|1kg||meaty pork spare ribs, cut in half if possible|
|6||garlic cloves, crushed|
|5 cm||piece of root ginger, grated|
|5-6cm||piece of cinnamon stick|
|1 tsp||Szechuan pepper|
|1||red chilli, left whole|
|100ml||rice or cider vinegar|
|75g||soft light brown sugar|
|½ bunch||spring onions|
|Salt and freshly ground pepper|
You will need a pressure cooker.
Heat the oil in the pressure cooker. Add the ribs and fry until nicely browned. You may have to do this in two batches. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and Szechuan pepper and fry for a moment or two. Pierce the chilli a few times with the point of a small knife and add that too. Pour over the soy sauce, vinegar and apple juice, sprinkle in the sugar, then season with salt and pepper. Close the lid, bring up to high pressure and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to drop naturally.
Remove the ribs and the chilli from the pressure cooker and return it to the heat. Simmer the liquid until it has reduced to a fairly light syrup. Return the ribs to the cooker and, if you are serving immediately, heat through again. But if you can, wait until the following day as the flavours will improve overnight.
To serve, trim the spring onions, cut in half widthways, and finely shred lengthways. Sprinkle over the ribs.