Pages

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

yeye's sweet and sour spareribs

I attribute my strong carniverous tendencies to my grandfather. He raised his 4 children on pork, and his grandkids were no exception to the rule. Most parents urge their kids to drink plenty of milk, to eat all their veggies and fruit, even resorting to tricks of the parental trade in order to get these things down their child's unobliging throat. My grandfather, my yeye, in stark but delicious contrast, force fed me braised chicken dishes, glazed spareribs, steamed fish...much to my heart's delight. Greens, to him, were an afterthought, something to add a bit of color and texture to, you guessed it, meat. And we never ate fruit since both he and my grandmother were both diabetic. Thus I grew up knowing my repertoire of meat, meat-products, and on the occasion, by-products.

There are some dishes that to this day, I still crave from my yeye's kitchen. His edamame (we called it mao dou) always came steaming hot and salted, studded with peppercorn and star anise, in a huge gigantic metal bowl for me to pick through. For my birthdays, he would make me jiao zhi yu, a whole fish fried and smothered in a sweet and tangy garlic sauce. He would set the dish so that the head faced me, a portent of good fortune. Mostly I remember the very simplest dishes he made, for a weekday dinner, or a quick lunch on his break between work. Noodles with gravy, scrambled eggs with fresh tomato, a bowl of noodle soup. But mostly, he was famous for his meat dishes (and I mean famous, since he owned two successful restaurants).

One dish that was always a hit with my aunts, uncles and cousins was his Tang Cu Pai Gu, otherwise known as sweet and sour spareribs. Don't let the seemingly mundane name, nor the overly sweet flavors those words conjure, scare you. "Sweet and sour" has become bastardized, a once tangy and savory dish in its native state, has been doused with pounds and pounds of granulated sugar, not to mention bright orange dyes, here in the U.S. throughout take-out joints and large Chinese restaurants.


The real deal uses fresh, small and tender pork spareribs, about 2-3 inches in length. Most of the fat is rendered out in the cooking process, leaving a truly lean and savory portion of meat. The sauce is what ties this dish together, a tour de force of glazes, if you will. It is reminiscent of those rich, caramelized sauces found in Vietnamese clay pot dishes, but with more vinegar, reduced down to a thick and syrupy tang.


More memorable than the taste was the way that Yeye served his spareribs to the family- piled up high in a large metal mixing bowl, set on the diningroom table, which was laid over with old newspapers. No need to say it was all a bit of a messy affair. But nonetheless, finger-licking delicious. When I visited him this year, he was once again busy in the kitchen, peeling garlic, rattling woks...this is how he keeps busy now at age 83. A little before dinnertime, the scent of vinegar and garlic lured me into his kitchen, and to my surprise, a wokful of ribs was braising on the stove. I remember asking him for the recipe, but he just threw out a listing of spices and herbs, and promised to let me watch in a few days as he recreated the dish again.


Just like when I was little, I laid out the newspaper on the table, in preparation for dinner with my grandparents. This dish will always be known as "Yeye's Spareribs" because no one else can make them like he does. I always eat them with such intensity and gusto, letting my little pile of bones build up, never fully realizing just how much satisfaction and pleasure is written over Yeye's face, as he looks on.



Tang Cu Pai Gu - "Yeye's Sweet and Sour Spareribs"

Look for smaller ribs, as these will be more tender. Cut them up, between the rib bones, then across the bone again, to get small "riblet" pieces.
Chinkiang vinegar is a black Chinese rice vinegar that's readily available at all Asian food stores.

1 1/2 - 2 lb pork ribs, cut into 2-3" in length

Braising Liquid:
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1" piece ginger, sliced into rounds
1/2 water, optional
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 whole star anise
1 tsp chicken stock granules or MSG, optional
2 Tbsp dark Chinkiang vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup Shaoxing cooking wine
1/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 scallion, cut into thirds

1. Place the ribs in a large pot, fill with water, and set over high heat. Let the water come to a boil, then turn down the heat to simmer for 1 hour (lid on of off). Drain ribs and lay them out on a large dish to dry up some more.

2. Heat the oil in a wok to about 350F. In small batches, fry the ribs, about 1 minute. Drain any excess oil on paper towels.

3. Pour the hot oil out from your wok, and give it a quick wipedown. To the wok, add all the ingredients for the Braising Liquid, except for the sugar. (You can add the optional 1/2 cup water, if you prefer more sauce.) Bring to a gentle boil, add the ribs, stir to coat, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover, and cook for about 10 minutes.



4. Stir in the sugar, cover again, and cook over low heat for another 10-15 minutes until the liquid has turned thick and glossy, like a glaze. Turn the heat off and transfer the ribs to a serving dish.

21 comments:

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Love the story. . .and the ribs look lipsmackingly delicious. I love the idea of putting newspapers on the table -- hey, that's eminently practical! Great food and practicality: that's a heady combo.

E said...

I loved your story and it made me intensely nostalgic for my gong gong's cooking. He passed away 2 years ago but I still miss his cooking. You are a very lucky person.

Brilynn said...

Those sound delicious, great memories!

AppetiteforChina said...

I absolutely love tangcu paigu. It's so true that the Chinese eat pork almost as if it were rice.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your story. It is awesome to have such wonderful memories of grandparents. And the spareribs reminded me of the ones my mom-in-law makes.

Sophie said...

We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if interested. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Nice story but the recipe is awful to my taste. No way that star anise goes along with a sweet and sour dish.

Anonymous said...

I was sooo looking to find this recipe and it came with a really great story! I wish I could say that my family was that 'connected' but I'm the American living in China with a Chinese hubby...so I'm tolerated. Can't wait to try it out...already have the paigu boiling!

Anonymous said...

福~
「朵
語‧,最一件事,就。好,你西.............................................................................................................
..................-...相互
來到你身邊,以你曾經希望的方式回應你,許下,只是讓它發生,放下,才是讓它實現,你的心願使你懂得不能執著的奧秘

Anonymous said...

WoW sounds and looks very delicious! Now Im hungry lol

Great story btw! =)

Anonymous said...

酒店 ,酒店公關 ,酒店經紀 ,酒店兼職,酒店小姐, 酒店上班,酒店喝酒,酒店工作

SteamyKitchen said...

Love the story. I'll be making this tomorrow! Look for the post on Monday.

Talia.float said...

Bought the Tennis Racquet is important, exercise can reduce the harm, especially for the wrist injury. But the good of Tennis Racket in general in the real prices are more expensive, so a lot of websites now have cheap tennis racquet,tennis racquet discount,cheap tennis racket,discount Tennis Racket .

as said...

Some new style Puma Speed is in fashion this year. chaussure puma is Puma Shoes in french. Many france like seach “chaussure sport” by the internet when they need buy the Puma shoes or buy the nike max shoes.The information age is really convenient. By the way ,the puma CAT is really good chaussures puma ,don’t forget buy the puma mens shoes and nike air max ltd by the internet when you need them . Do you know Nike Air Shoes is a best Air Shoes .

Spring is coming, and how to choose the polo shirts is the main concern of many people. ralph lauren polo shirts is a classic type and reliable. ed hardy clothing is more in line with the aesthetic ideas of young people, so many young people filled with a variety of ed hardy clothes in their wardrobes. New style ed hardy womens shirt match the new style ed hardy sunglasses , it is a good idea.
Do you think this season is not for ugg boots ? maybe yes .but this season is best time that can buy the cheap ugg boots. Many sellers are selling discounted. Do not miss . Please view my blog and fc2 blog .thank you .

fdg said...

You are currently spoilt for choice Polo Shirts On Sale with the selection of current star names to get put on the back of the polo ralph lauren, with such playres as Maldini, Toni, Di Rossi, Iaquinta, Pirlo, and Canavarro to name just a

few cheappolos. And three are othre rising stars who might take your fancy burbrery polos, like Rossi, Balotelli, Pazzini and Aquilani. Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts are all going to be names that

you’ll hear a lot more Burbrery Polo Shirts of in the future I’m sure.

fdg said...

In spite of the fact that many critics comment on ed hardy clothing as nothing but tattoo pattrens, being full of unnecessary and useless things, ed hardy clothes is widely acknowledged that ed hardy shirts draws the most attention of both common young people as well as many Hollywood welcomed stars for its punk rock styles. In fact, in today’s world, many ed hardy t-shirtsdesigns are more or less the same with each othre, and ed hardy mens and ed hardy womens , absolutely, brings a totally new shock in the fashion world for its design being out of ordinary ed hardy sunglasses.

Sneakers hobbies said...

we have lots of polo shirts
Abercrombie Fitch clothing
Abercrombie Fitch hoodile
ralph lauren shirts
Columbia Jacket
north face jackets
spyder ski jacket
polo shirts
polo shirt
spyder jackets
mens jacket
mens spyder jackets
spyder jackets for cheap
spyder ski jacket
womens spyder jackets
ralph lauren
spyder jackets cheap
spyder jackets for men
cheap spyder jackets
north face jackets
discount spyder jacket
the north face jacket
ralph lauren polo shirts on sale
discount ralph lauren polo shirts
ralph lauren polo shirts
ralph lauren polo wholesale
north face jackets
north face jacket
Columbia Jacket
ralph lauren jacket
Abercrombie Fitch hoodile
Abercrombie Fitch clothing
abercrombie fitch
abercrombie fitch
welcom to our store.

Peejay Li said...

Thank you for sharing such a nice article.
discount puma shoes whosale
discount nike shoes whosale
cheap nike shoes
discount nike shoes
discount puma shoes
nike mens shoes
nike womens shoes
nike childrens shoes
puma mens shoes
puma womens shoes
chaussures puma
puma speed cat
Nike Tn Chaussures
requin tn
nike shox
puma shoes
puma CAT
puma basket
puma speed
baskets puma
puma sport
puma femmes
puma shox r4 torch
nike air max requin
nike shox r3
shox rival r3
tn plus
chaussures shox
nike shox r4 torch
air max tn requin
nike tn femme
pas cher nike
tn chaussures
nike rift
nike shox nz
chaussures shox
nike shox rival
shox rival
chaussures requin
jeans online
cheap armani jeans
cheap G-star jeans

lucyliu said...

nike air max 90
nike air max 95
nike air max tn
nike air rift
nike shox r4
nike air max 360
nike shox nz
puma mens shoes
puma shoes
puma speed
nike shoes
nike air
nike air shoes
puma cat
air max trainers
mens nike air max
nike shoes air max
nike shoes shox
air shoes
nike shoe cart
puma future
cheap puma
sports shoes
nike air rifts
nike air rift trainer
nike air
nike rift
nike rift shoes
cheap nike air rifts
bape shoes
jeans shop
diesel jeans
levis jeans

LAN said...

puma mens shoes
puma shoes
puma speed
nike shoes
nike air
nike air shoes
nike air max 90
nike air max 95
nike air max tn
nike air rift
nike shox r4
nike air max 360
nike shox nz
puma cat
air max trainers
mens nike air max
sports shoes
nike air rifts
nike air rift trainer
nike air
nike shoes air max
nike shoes shox
air shoes
Lucyliu IS Lucyliu
nike shoe cart
puma future
cheap puma
nike rift
jeans shop
diesel jeans
levis jeans
nike rift shoes
cheap nike air rifts
bape shoes

Anonymous said...

gucci replica handbags
men gucci shoes
Gucci men sneakers
Gucci men moccasins
gucci women sneakers
gucci women boots
Gucci men boots
Gucci
Gucci shop
Gucci bags
Gucci shoes
Replica GUCCI SHOES
wholesale gucci shoes
cheap Gucci handbags
Gucci ON sale
Gucci Belts
Gucci small accessories
Gucci hats & scarves
Gucci wallets
Gucci Handbags
Women Gucci shoes
Men Gucci shoes
discount gucci shoes
cheap Gucci shoes