Some of the recipes that I post are inspired by dishes that I've tried elsewhere, loved and attempted to replicate at home. I remember the exotic-tasting Muhammara sauce that came with the deep-fried kataifi prawns that I loved at Kazbah (and the Breakfast Tagine too!). Oh, and not forgetting the awesome chilli crab dip with potato wedges they used to serve at an Irish pub called Muddy Murphy's back in Singapore. And more recently, I found a great recipe for Japanese Hashed Beef that turned out even better than the one I had at Oiden Bowl Bar. In today's post, I am featuring this melt-in-your-mouth dish of braised pork ribs in a sweet and sour plum sauce. The first time I ordered this at Phoenix restaurant, I was expecting deep-fried pork ribs with peking sauce. When the food arrived, I actually thought they gave us the wrong order and was a little disappointed that it wasn't deep-fried. However, the moment I dug my fork into the meat, it was so tender and pulled apart so easily that I knew this was going to be good!
Anyway, I tried to replicate this dish at home and I think it turned out quite well. G seemed to think that it tastes almost like the one from Phoenix, although I think I would have to order that again to make an honest comparison. In any case, I think my version has most of the key ingredients and it's just a matter of achieving the perfect balance of flavours that will make this a winning dish at the dinner table.
1kg (2 lb) pork ribs, cut into 4 inch slabs
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 red chillies, stem removed
Vegetable oil for frying
1 bunch spinach, washed
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
2 tbs light soy sauce
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
1 tbsp cornflour
4-5 tbsp Lee Kum Kee brand plum sauce*
3 tbsp tomato sauce
1 1/2 tbsp worchestireshire sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine pork with marinade and set aside for 1 hour. Heat up some oil in a medium pot and fry the garlic until browned. Add chillies and pork and sear the pork all over. Add the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 2 hours until tender and gravy is thick. If the gravy has not reduced yet, remove the lid and let the gravy boil and reduce until slightly thickened.
To prepare the spinach, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt, sugar and vegetable oil. Blanch the spinach until it turns bright green. Remove and rinse under cold tap water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out excess water. Then use a knife or pair of scissors and cut it into 2 inch sections. Arrange on a serving plate.
When the pork is ready, arrange the pork over the spinach. Use a sieve to strain the gravy to remove the bits of garlic and chilli so that you get a silky-smooth sauce. Pour the gravy over the pork and spinach. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.
* Note: Please use Lee Kum Kee brand plum sauce, which is sweet tasting compared to other brands which may be relatively sour.