by Jeremy Pang from Jeremy Pang's School of Wok: Simple Family Feasts (Hamlyn) Photography: Kris Kirkham
Sweet & sour is the go-to taste experience to punctuate the start, middle or end of any good Chinese feast. When you cook ribs like this the layers of flavour will keep you coming back for more, alternating between mouthfuls of fluffy rice. The glaze on the outside of the meat creates a lovely chew, alongside a natural sweetness and lingering savouriness achieved by poaching the ribs first. The distinctive flavour of the silky sauce from the Chinkiang (black) vinegar makes a unique treat in itself.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 1hr 15 mins (includes poaching)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
5–6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
800g pork spare ribs, cut into 3–4cm bite-sized pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
4–5 spring onions, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
vegetable oil, to fry
6tbsp Chinkiang (black) vinegar (swapsies: rice vinegar)
4tbsp dark soy sauce
2tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (swapsies: dry sherry)
100g palm sugar (swapsies: soft brown sugar)
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 litre chicken stock
100ml Shaoxing rice wine (swapsies: dry sherry)
3tbsp light soy sauce
1. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan or wok, bring to a boil on a medium heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes or so until all the sugar has dissolved.
2. Build your ‘wok clock’ around a plate by organising your ingredients in the order you will need them. Start at 12 o’clock with half the ginger and garlic, followed by the poaching liquid ingredients (put the liquids in small bowls), the pork ribs, the rest of the ginger and garlic, the spring onions and lastly the sauce.
3. Heat 1tbsp vegetable oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the first batch of ginger and garlic and fry until they have started to brown around the edges. Then add the star anise, cinnamon and bay leaves and fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the rest of the poaching liquid ingredients and bring to a boil, then add the pork ribs, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
4. Heat a wok or saucepan to medium heat. Add a little oil, the rest of the ginger and garlic along with the spring onions and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes. Add the sauce and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
5. Remove the ribs from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and place them directly into the bubbling sauce. Boil on a medium heat for 10–15 minutes, stirring them through once in a while, until the sauce has reduced by half and turned into a glaze around the ribs.
6. Transfer to a platter and garnish with extra spring onions and serve.