I am not sure what it is about me that draws Chinese friendships. I sure don’t look Chinese…But I am very fortunate to have good friends who are Chinese-Filipino. We all enjoy Chinese food especially dim sum! And that’s where I first got to taste black bean sauce in this steamed spare ribs dish. Since then, I made sure I had a bottle in my fridge at all times. I enjoy it, pretty much with everything…fish, veggies, chicken, shrimp, pork..I love it all!
Black bean sauce is a flavoring from China that comes from fermented soybeans. It goes through a process of softening and drying. Black beans has a sharp, pungent, spicy smell with a taste of saltiness and somewhat bitter and sweet. There is no need for salt when using this ingredient since it is so packed with flavor.
This inspired me to try out Diana Kuan of Appetite China’s Spicy Black Bean Spare Ribs recipe. Diana’s recipe has been featured in Rasa Malaysia where she was a guest writer.
A freelance writer and cooking instructor based in Beijing, Diana is considered an expert in Chinese food recipes. So I am sure this recipe is authentic!
This Spicy Black Bean Spare Ribs is finger-lickin’ good!
Recipe Review Site: Rasa Malaysia
Cook Date: Sept 26, 2011
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Total Cooking time: 45 minutes
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
1 1/2 pounds pork spare ribs, cut to 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium-sized leek, thinly sliced
White sesame seeds for garnish, optional
Thinly sliced scallions or leeks for garnish, optional
3 tablespoons spicy black bean sauce (or 2 tablespoons black bean sauce with 1/2 tablespoon chili oil)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Mix together ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
In a wok or frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add spare ribs and stir-fry until brown on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and leeks and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Pour in sauce mixture. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes. Sauce should be reduced enough to coat the spare ribs. Transfer to serving plate, garnish with optional sesame seeds and scallions, and serve with rice.
I think I am biased with this review since I am a huge fan of black bean sauce. Nevertheless, I will try my best to give an objective review on it.
This dish was packed with so much flavor not just from the black bean sauce but from the garlic, ginger and leeks. The use of leek instead of onion gave it a more subtle flavor. The fat from the spare ribs completed the flavor of this dish. The sauce is so tasty that rice and the sauce can be a meal on its own. I followed the recommended black bean/chili mixture (2 tbsps blackbeans and ½ tbsp chili oil) and it gave the sauce just enough kick. The chili was not overpowering the dish.
The recommended cooking time is 10 minutes once you pour the sauce into the sauteed garlic, ginger, leek and ribs mixture. If you follow this cooking time, the ribs will come out very undercooked. I like my ribs really tender, and I mean tender that the meat is literally falling off the bones. I added an additional 25 minutes but the ribs were still not tender as I want it to be. Next time I make this dish, I will throw the sauce combined with the sauteed mixture and ribs into the pressure cooker. I am sure it will only take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to get the meat to my desired tenderness. I have made pork spare rib dishes before and pressure cooking worked for me 99% of the time.
This dish is truly an authentic Chinese dish that I will recommend. It has met my expectations on flavor but needs to be cooked until ribs are tender. This Spicy Black Bean Spare Ribs is finger-lickin’ good!
Rating: Sarap! ****