Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pork Ribs with Black Bean and Bitter Gourd

Now that the summer holidays are over and the kids are back in school, things are getting busy again. It's not only the homework, but birthday parties, shopping for birthday presents, ironing the summer uniforms (it's much easier in winter when they just have to wear their skivvies and pullovers!), planning meals and packing lunchboxes. The only time I cook is usually on the weekends, and even then, I try to spend more time with the kids and less in the kitchen.

Like most braises and stews, this dish of black bean pork ribs with bitter gourd is a relatively easy dish to prepare - a one pot wonder with meat and veggies included. The bitterness of the gourd complements the rest of the dish really well - the tender pork and that delicious thick gravy. I've never been a fan of bitter gourd, but cooked this way, I love. One big plate of rice this way please.

Pork Ribs with Black Bean and Bitter Gourd


1 large bitter gourd
700g pork ribs, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tbsp dark soy (Cheong Chan thick caramel)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tbsp salted soy beans (brown), mashed
1 1/2 tbsp salted black beans, roughly chopped
1-2 chillies, chopped (optional)
1 1/4 cups water

1/2 tbsp dark soy (Cheong Chan thick caramel)
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
2-3 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp chicken stock powder
1/4 tsp pepper


Slice the bittergourd length-wise into half. Use a spoon to scoop out the spongy white centre and seeds, and discard them. Rinse the bittergourd and sprinkle with some salt to remove some of the bitterness. Leave for 20 minutes, then rinse off the salt. Cut into thick slices (about 3/4 inch).

Rub the pork ribs with 1 tbsp dark soy. Heat vegetable oil in a pot and fry the garlic, soy beans, black beans and chillies. Once fragrant (about 3 minutes), add the pork ribs and fry until all the pieces are seared and coated in the sauce. Add water and seasoning ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes until meat is tender, then add the bittergourd and simmer for another 20 minutes. Let the sauce reduce until it turns into a thick gravy. Remove the lid to speed up the process. Mix the pork and bittergourd around in the sauce so that every piece is nicely coated in the yummy sauce. Dish out and serve with steamed white rice.