Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Sweet and Sour Pork Rib Stew
I am sure most people would be able to name a few of their favourite homecooked meals, made by mum (or sometimes dad, too). Sometimes, I envy those who live close enough to their parents that they still get to enjoy these tasty meals. We don't have the luxury of being able to pop by at our folks' place for dinner as they live really far, far away, which is why sometimes, I have to turn to my mum for recipes in order to replicate dishes such as my favourite mee rebus. My FIL is also a whiz in the kitchen, with some of his "famous" dishes being pineapple-glazed ham, yam and pork rib noodles, and pumpkin prawn noodles. One of the dishes that G often crave for is this sweet and sour pork rib stew, which he calls "Sng Bak", meaning "sour pork" in Hokkien dialect. I have never had this stew before until I met G and was fortunate enough to be invited to his house for these sumptuous homecooked meals. It was the first time I ever had an Asian-style pork stew with sliced baguette, but I must say I enjoyed dipping the crusty buttered bread into the rich and tangy gravy, and eating it with the melt-in-your-mouth pork and creamy potatoes.
G has been asking me to cook this a few times now, but I just had too much on my plate (pardon the pun) with all my other to-make recipes piling up on my desk day by day. Well, it so happened that I had some pork ribs in the fridge, and also some potatoes which have been have been sitting on the counter for so long they were starting to grow eyes. I decided to put them to good use and make G his favourite stew (finally!). Correction. I shall attempt to replicate my FIL's stew, with a few tweaks here and there, a dash of this and a splash of that. And the result? G tried it and said "Very good, Mummy, but I think it needs more vinegar". I knew G preferred plenty of vinegar in his, but I liked it the way it was, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't too sour for the kids either. The pork ribs I used had a good amount of fat on it, which gave the stew a buttery flavour and a very slightly gelatinous consistency. This is a comforting dish that you will enjoy with either some crusty bread and butter, or just a bowl of steamed jasmine rice.
Sweet and Sour Pork Rib Stew
800g pork ribs with some fat, diced into 1 1/2 inch cubes
8 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tbsp salted soy beans, minced
4-5 dried chillies (or substitute with chopped fresh red chillies)
2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
Vegetable oil for frying
2 tbsp salted soy beans, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chinese rice vinegar
3 tbsp plum sauce
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
7 tbsp vinegar (or to taste)
3 cups water
1 tsp cornflour + 1 tbsp water
Combine pork with marinade and leave for 4 hours or overnight.
Heat up 1-2 tbsp oil in a pot on medium heat. Fry garlic for 2-3 minutes until browned and caramelized all over. Add soy bean paste and dried chillies and fry for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, then add the pork and fry until browned. Add seasoning ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover with a lid and let it simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours or until pork is tender and sauce is reduced by one third. Add potatoes and carrots and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender. Add in thickening while stirring the sauce/gravy. Bring to a simmer. The gravy should be smooth and very slightly thickened. Dish out into a large bowl and serve hot with steamed jasmine rice or some buttered crusty bread. Enjoy!