I have a weakness for this Chinese famous dish: Wuxi spareribs (无锡排骨，无锡肉骨头）。 I got to know the dish when I was stationed in Shanghai and Wuxi is very near to Shanghai, about a few hours train ride from Shanghai. We went there for official assignment and we always ordered these fall off the bones ribs.
It is an unforgettable dish and I even bought the vacuum packed cooked ribs back to Singapore.The ribs are supposed to be slightly reddish, soft, more on a sweet side and more important of all, it falls of the bone.
As this is one of my favourite dishes, I have tried many times at different restaurants and every Chinese restaurants version are slightly different. Some are more reddish, some are darker and taste did vary according to the restaurant. Some are very oily but the better one is rather dry but came with sauce. But something in common, it comes with a faint herbs aroma, slightly glossy, thick and sweet sauces. Of course, the pork ribs must be tender until it falls of the bone.
I have read up quite a number of recipes before I proceed to the preparation. The 4 video recipes that I watched has very different method of preparation and ingredients and I became rather confused. So I decided to design my own recipe. If you Google for recipes, I think more than 90% of the recipes will required the readers to deep fry the ribs. As I knew most readers are health conscious and do not like to involve in deep frying, I am convinced to try another method of using water blanching. The final dish will therefore be less oily.
I went to the market and bought the best ribs and this illustration costs me about S$18 for the ribs. About S$2 per piece. It is rather costly but if not for this illustrations, i may chose some cheaper ribs. The family are very happy with the ribs. I have tell Facebook members that our family are never meat eater, but for these ribs, they seems to enjoy it and finish all during the meal. I knew the reason, it is because of the tasty meat and fall of the bone texture that they liked.
You may be wondering how long does it take for house chefs to cook until it falls of the bone. Well, I have used a pressure cooker and it took me about 20 minutes for this size of meat. After the pressure cooking, I have thicken the sauces over the stove. If you do not have a pressure cooker, do not worry as any method of cooking is acceptable but timing will vary greatly. Whichever method being used, you will still need to thicken the sauce over the stove.
The estimated timings are as follows:
- Slow cooker – 4-5 hours over high heat
- Steaming – 2 hours under high heat
- Over the stove – 1-1.5 hours under high heat
- Pressure cooker – 20 minutes
提起无锡，人们一定会想起旖旎的太湖风光，更会想起酥香软烂、咸甜可口的无锡排骨，这道驰名中外的菜是很多肉食爱好者的心头好。无锡排骨原名“无锡肉骨头”，兴起于清朝光绪年间。当时无锡城南门附近的莫兴盛肉店出售的酱排骨颇受欢迎，后来三凤桥附近的余慎肉店改进了配料、调味，渐渐地风头盖过了莫兴盛，到了清末，三凤桥肉骨头就已成为人们心目中最正宗的无锡肉骨头了。20世纪80年代，无锡肉骨头开始出现真空包装的产品，为了便于推广，也逐渐更名为无锡排骨。” （Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/220359.htm)
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 4-6 adult servings
- 4 prime ribs, cut into half of about 7 cm long
- 1 bundle of spring onion, cleaned and cut into big chunks
- 3 big slices of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of red yeast rice residue or red yeast rice grain (红糟 或 红曲米）
- 2 small pieces of cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 2 small pieces of rock sugar
- 1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine like Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 cup of dark soya sauce
- 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes flour
- Pinches of salt
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Coat the pork ribs with a thin film of sweet potatoes starch or other starches like corn starch.
- Heat up a pot of boiling water, put in the pork ribs and do not move the pork ribs for at least 3 minutes such that the coating will stay with the meat. Continue to cook for a few more minutes until there are no blood water coming from the pork ribs.
- Drain and rub the pork ribs with some soya sauce and let it sit for 5 minutes for colour to develop.
- Line the bottom of the pressure cooker pot with ginger and spring onion. Arrange the pork ribs on top and followed by the rock sugar. Add the rice wine, remaining dark soya sauce, pinches of salt, cinnamon sticks, star anise and red yeast rice residue. Add adequate water just to cover the pork ribs.
- Pressure cook the pork ribs for about 20 minutes.
- Once pressure cooking is done and pressure released, transfer the cooked pork ribs to a plate. Put all the meat broth to wok and use high heat to bring to boil. Let it boil until the volume reduced by almost half . Add the pork ribs again and let it simmer until your desired consistency of the meat gravy. Overall, it took me about 15 minutes under high heat to thicken the meat broth. The bigger is your wok the shorter the time will be required. During thickening, colour will darkens, become glossier and the sauces will be come smoother and less watery.
I have not eaten this dish for so many years and I have satisfied my craving. It is good that my family members loves it too. Timing of cooking will very much depend on the type of ribs used and the equipment used for the stewing. If you are working, slow cooker will the best alternative.
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