Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Braised Recipe Number 1 : Ribs.

Here’s a recipe for pork ribs braised in lu shui, aka master sauce. This is by far the best way i know to cook ribs, the best way to bring out the potential of what i see as a much misused cut of meat. I tire of these stiff, tasteless sticks of bbq meat that bypass the melting, fatty qualities of a good rib, and the slow braise in soy - what the Chinese call red cooking - means you get highly seasoned meat from surface to bone.

pork ribs, rack or split

1/2 cup of dark soy

3/4 cup of light soy

couple of glugs of chinese rice wine

4 tbsp palm sugar

tbsp schezuan peppercorns

bunch spring onions, cleaned, trimmed and halved

thumb sized chunk of ginger

one star anise

water/light stock to cover

If you get a rack of ribs, remember to take off the membrane that runs along the underside of the cut, because it’s a bit shitty and will only work against you in your mission of deliciousness.

Take a pot large enough to contain your ribs, and heat up a kettle of water. We need to pre-simmer the ribs to extract some of the blood and impurities that you’d have to skim off the braising liquid later otherwise. So boiling water and ribs into the pot, give it about ten minutes at a rolling boil and then drain them off.

Replace the ribs in the pot and the pot on the hob, then add your master sauce ingredients and enough water to cover the meat. Bring these up to a slow simmer, a really tender simmer and put the lid on. then walk away.

Three or four hours later, get some white rice if you want it, perhaps braise a little choi sum or pak choi in the pot and lay a few ribs on the plate. Most of the time i just eat it with a tsing tao and a boner.


Please, please, please consider keeping this leftover sauce. after cooking these ribs, you’ll have added a deep rich pork flavour. Next time you use it it will flavour you’re new meat further, resulting in more delicious meat. Obviously there are some concerns that this isn’t exactly the most healthy thing you can do, but i assure you that if the sauce is brought back up to temperature again, and you’re heating it for hours at a time then it won’t give you rickets or make you poo and sick so hard you scream my name and curse me, beating your fist into a steaming pool of your insides, weeping diseased master sauce tears. If it makes you feel any better, the Chinese also call it ‘thousand year sauce’, ‘the sauce that goes on and on’ and ‘fine to reheat sauce’.

To store the master sauce, wait for it to cool completely. You’ll have a thick layer of fat on the top which you need to remove, and then pass the sauce through a sieve. Store it in a bottle, a pot, or a watertight boot in the fridge or freezer. Next time you want to cook with it, top up with a little more soy, wine, stock, et al.

Think about braising whole chickens, chinese sausages, eggs in shells..............

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