Good food on a budget is a specialty not only in China, but across the developing world. In countries which have recently joined the world economy, or only within the past 20-30 years, local food traditions have stayed strong. And although Western food is becoming more popular in these countries, their preference for local traditional dishes is unlikely to change in the near future.
The one common remark that students studying abroad make about their experience is that food doesn’t meet their standards. For example, the pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and salads option that fill cafeterias in the US provoke a homesickness that is unavoidable. Looking at the common dish I had for dinner last night, could you blame them for missing home?
I’m finally letting this simple, but amazingly delicious recipe out of the bag! I would eat ribs everyday if I could because they are so freaking delicious. My favorite rib-dish is actually steamed and served more frequently at Zao Cha (早茶) or “morning tea,” which is most common in Southern China. I have yet to find a more delicious way to cook pork ribs at home, but we will need to take a quick trip to the Asian Market first.
Start by preparing the following ingredients:
MEAT: Obviously, first comes the pork rib chunks. I buy them from a butcher’s market, which sells all cuts of meat in open air. The amount in the serving bowl to the right is about one full rib, which is about 8 inches long. You can get a 12 inch long rib chopped up for 2 people if this option is available. If you are not sure about portions, take a look at this article related to meat portion control.
SEASONINGS: We’ll simply take the chopped up pork ribs, rinse them through water, and do a simple 1 minute-marinade. I like 李锦记 (Lee Kum Kee) Brand’s prepared “Black Bean and Garlic Sauce” marinade shown in the picture. (buy online) I also mix in some 玉米生粉 (Corn Starch), which is that bag with the ear of corn on it. Any corn starch will do. Notice that I don’t cake this onto the ribs; just put a shallow amount in your palm, with the marinade, and mix by hand a few minutes before cooking. I also put in Chilli powder according to taste. A spicy edge can enhance the flavor.
PLANTS: I’ve chosen to separate the shelved Seasonings from the fresh ones. As in the picture above, just cut a few slices of raw ginger, long segments of scallions, and loosely chopped up garlic. This should only take 1 minute.
1 ~ Warm up a frying pan/wok with corn oil (or whatever is available in the house). Throw in some of the garlic you chopped up with 1 or two slices of ginger. Shortly after you can throw in the scallions.
2 ~ Quickly throw in your marinaded pork ribs. Move them around in the pan to give them equal heat. If you find the frying pan is drying out, just add small amounts of water periodically. You’ll slowly develop a nice coating of sauce this way.
3 ~ Cover and let them cook for a few minutes, mixing them up with the sauce in the pan. Add water if needed. (The meat cooks rather quickly because it is not frozen and its rather thin on the bone. Cooking times may vary according to the thickness of your meat.)
4 ~ I usually pull them off after 4-5 minutes. If you want, choose a thick piece and pull it out. Slice it and check the middle.
I eat this dish with white rice, as you can see from the picture of the final product. Also, it goes well with stir-fried green beans. Notice that the vegetables and the rice portions are about 50% of the meal. (Try your best to make a habit of this!)