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Fall-off-the-bone Ribs

To me, my mom is the best cook in the world.  She is the reason behind my passion for food, since she cultivated my palate from a young age with her varied repertoire of recipes. I would return from school, sit at the kitchen counter and chat with her while she prepared a delicious multi-course meal for the family.  One day, I hope to have the same relationship with my future children.  

One of my favourite dishes is her legendary stewed pork ribs.  I hope you enjoy making this long-standing family recipe as we’ve enjoyed over the years.

What you’ll need (serves 4):

  • 2 stalks of green onion 
  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 8 Sichuan peppercorn 
  • 3 star anise 
  • 2 tbls of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • 1 tbls salt
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine (you can use sherry also)
  • 1 tbls vinegar
  • a kettle of hot water
  • 2 lbs of pork ribs, chopped into 5 cm pieces

Wash the ribs under cold running water, pat dry.

Using a heavy-bottomed pot (because it retains heat and distributes heat evenly) stir-fry the scallion stalks, ginger slices, peppercorns and star anise over medium heat in the vegetable oil until fragrant (around 2 minutes).

Pour ribs into the pot and stir-fry along with the aromatics.  

Brown the meat evenly, this will take around 6-8 minutes.  You will notice that the meat start to shrink / pull back from the bone.

After 8 minutes, the meat should be evenly browned.  This is when you add the Chinese wine.  It will help deglaze the pan, and will create some sizzle.  Once the wine is almost evaporated (around 1 minute) pour in the soy sauces, vinegar, sugar, salt and mix well.


Once the sauces are mixed, pour in enough hot water to cover the meat.  Bring the pot to a boil and then turn to low heat so the meat can simmer.  

Now you need patience.  Go watch a movie, but keep an eye on the pot.  It will take 1-2 hours (depending on how tender the meat is) to stew it enough for the meat fall of the bone.  Keep a hot kettle handy as some of the liquid will evaporate and you will need to replenish.

I test the meat by poking a chopstick in it.  If it goes through the meat easily, it is ready to eat.  It also really depends on personal preference.  I like really tender ribs.  When the ribs are ready, lift the lid and reduce the liquid a bit so it acts more like a sauce.  

Serve with rice or noodles.  You can also add potatoes during the last 10 minutes of cooking.  The longer the potatoes stay in the sauce, the more flavourful they will be.  Just be careful not to cook them for too long (more than 20min) or else they will start melting into the sauce!  Onions are also optional and can be added 10 minutes before the ribs are ready.  

Bon Appetit!

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