Improv is Fun! – More Ribs!

So, it was dinner time and I didn’t know what to cook. We had pork ribs thawed out, and the Ryan was asking what I had planned for them. I was thinking I’d go with my honey soy recipe, but he seemed a little less than okay with that. Off hand, he suggested, “Check the Wok Bible and see if anything is in that for ribs??” So, I did.

Sadly, there were no recipes for ribs, but I did find a recipe for pork belly that I thought I’d carry over to the ribs.

In case you were wondering, I *highly* recommend this book:*

It is informative, well-written, has lovely pictures, and thoroughly explains many different ways to cook Asian food, in a wok. It lists ingredients, supplies, their purposes, their differences, their definitions, and facts about each. It is not limited to Japanese, Chinese or Thai specifically. Instead, it combines all three and a few other bits and bobs into a comprehensive, beautiful guide to utilizing your wok to its fullest.

Stir-fry is one of those things that the Ryan and I do often, as it’s fast and easy, and at the end of the day, we are not always up to doing complicated meals. The Ryan loves to just toss all manner of whatever he wants into the wok and go for it. And since we recently bought ourselves a brand new nonstick wok (hey, now, we don’t have a wok burner and we’re not investing in one for an apartment we don’t own :P), we have been trying to use it as often as possible without making ourselves tired of it. The book was the perfect addition to our library.

Another perk of the Wok Bible is that it doesn’t have strictly “stir fry” recipes in it. The recipe I found today is actually for braised pork belly. I just modified it a bit to fit the ribs I had on hand. I was also missing a lot of ingredients, so I had to make substitutions. Observe:

First, the ingredients: Soy sauce (5 tbls), Sambal Oelek chili paste (1 tbls; the book calls for hot chili powder, but I decided to do the paste for giggles), peppercorns (10 of them. Yep, the book says to count out ten), OJ (1/2-1/3 cup; the book calls for the rind and juice of one orange, but I didn’t have one; 1/2-1/3 cup of juice is about what you’d get out of a typical orange), beef stock (1 & 2/3 cup), light brown sugar (1 tbls; the book calls for molasses, but I didn’t have any of that either; molasses is present in brown sugar, which is why I decided to use it), 3 cinnamon sticks, 3 cloves (I used ground cloves – 1/4 tsp ground = 3 whole), garlic (2 cloves, sliced), ginger (1 tbls, peeled and shredded) and star anise (2-3). See what I mean about improv??

Since our wok doesn’t have a lid, I used a small stockpot. Add the ribs and fill with water until the ribs are just covered. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat, and let simmer for about 20 minutes (if you have ribs like I do).

Get your stock ready by adding 1 & 2/3 cup of water and 2 tsp of bouillon (I used ‘Better than Bouillon’ beef stock base) to a small pot and simmer.

Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, ginger, garlic, chili paste, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, cloves, peppercorns and star anise in a small bowl and mix together until thoroughly combined.

When the ribs are done simmering, drain and add back to the pot.

Add the broth and spices mixture to the pot, and add water to, again, just cover the ribs. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat. Cook for 1 and a half hours, stirring occasionally to prevent the pork from sticking. About half way through, I was afraid of the ribs drying out due to the fact that they didn’t have any fat on them, so I added about 1/4 cup of olive oil to the mixture to up the fat content, and hopefully, keep the ribs moist.

Unfortunately for us, I believe that the fact that I was lacking molasses prevented the ribs from actually braising properly. After an hour and a half, the liquid had only reduced by half. However, the Ryan and I were extremely hungry, so I made some rice, steamed some spinach, and served the ribs. They came out nice and tender, and were quite tasty. We enjoyed them minus the braising. Should I do this again, I will follow the recipe as it says. Only maybe not with pork belly, but better, more fatty ribs. 🙂

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