Boston Globe, May 5, 2010
Chinese spare ribs are restaurant food, and usually gnaw-the-bone good. You can also make delicious ribs at home, where you don’t have to worry about table manners. There are three cuts of ribs: meaty pork ribs, sometimes called St. Louis-style; baby-back pork ribs that have less meat; and country-style ribs that may take longer to cook and aren’t traditionally used in Chinese recipes. St. Louis and baby back both come in racks. I prefer the meaty St. Louis; butchers will cut the ribs into individual bones, which is what you want. Marinate them for several hours in a soy and hoisin mixture with ketchup, then roast them in a hot oven. The marinade turns into a glazy sauce with a deep reddish tone (because of ketchup). One drawback to this foolproof method: The sweet sauce and high oven temperature make everything stick like crazy to your pan, so line it with heavy duty foil. Add gloriously green baby bok choy and a bowl of rice to turn this classic appetizer into a main course.
Stash away a few ribs and some of the bok choy for bowls of pork-noodle ramen. Add scallions and a few slices of ginger to a good quality beef broth, then simmer the ribs in it to heat them through and flavor the soup. Serve the broth with pork sliced off the bone, curly ramen noodles, sometimes called chuka soba, the bok choy, and a handful of crunchy bean sprouts. Recycle all those take-out menus, toss that packaged ramen, and do it yourself.
Chinese-style pork spare ribs
Serves 4 with leftovers
You can use this sauce for Chinese roast pork. Cut a pork tenderloin into two long strips; follow the marinating and cooking instructions below.
5 1/2 pounds St. Louis-style pork spare ribs (about 16 ribs separated)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red or white wine or sake
1/4 cup ketchup
6 scallions, cut into 4-inch lengths and smashed
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup water
1. Have on hand 2 half-gallon zipper plastic bags. Divide the ribs between them.
2. In a large bowl combine the soy and hoisin sauces, sugar, wine or sake, ketchup, scallions, and garlic. Mix well. Stir in the water. Pour half the sauce into each bag. Carefully press the air out of the bags, then close the zippers. Rub the sauce around all the ribs. Refrigerate for several hours, turning once to redistribute the sauce.
3. Set the oven at 450 degrees.
4. About 15 minutes before cooking, remove the ribs from the refrigerator. Line a roasting pan with heavy duty foil. Place the ribs and marinade in the pan, leaving space between them.
5. Cook the ribs for 35 minutes, turning every 15 minutes. Cut into the meat down to the bone to make sure there is no bright pink color. If they are burning, turn the heat down to 425 degrees. Place ribs on a platter and brush any cooking juices onto the ribs. (Set aside 4 ribs for the ramen.) Serve with white rice and bok choy.
Debra Samuels. Adapted from Jeanne Tahnk.
Curly ramen noodles (chuka soba), come dried in compact squares or nests. You can also use 1 pound of thin fresh Chinese noodles in this Japanese dish.
3 cups beef broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 scallions, cut into 4-inch lengths and smashed
1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, cut into 4 slices
4 cooked pork spare ribs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 pieces cooked bok choy, each halved lengthwise
2 cups fresh bean sprouts (mung bean)
12 ounces (4 nests) ramen noodles (chuka soba)
Extra sesame oil (for sprinkling)
1. In a soup pot over medium heat, combine beef broth, water, soy sauce, scallions, and ginger. Bring to a boil. Add the pork ribs and lower the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until pork is heated through. Remove ribs, scallions, and ginger and transfer to a bowl.
2. Add sesame oil, salt, and pepper to the soup. Turn the heat to low.
3. Slice meat off the bones; discard bones, scallions, and ginger.
4. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the bok choy and cook for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to lift it out and transfer to a plate. Add the bean sprouts to the water; cook 1 minute. With the spoon transfer the sprouts to a bowl; sprinkle with salt.
5. Add ramen to boiling water and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until noodles are tender but still have bite.
6. Drain the noodles and rinse with warm water. With a scissors snip the noodles in half. Divide the noodles among 4 deep bowls.
7. Arrange the pork, bok choy, and bean sprouts on the noodles. Ladle soup around the noodles. Sprinkle with sesame oil. Serve with chopsticks and a spoon.