Sweet Hot & Sour Sauce for Ribs

So, a new version of an old Joy of Cooking recipe for (hot) sweet and sour sauce that doesn’t involve ketchup or pineapple. Couldn’t find the cookbook so decided I remembered enough to make it out of my head. The ingredients you’ll need in addition to the pork sweet and sour ribs are:

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Emu Australian sherry
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sambal Oleck fresh ground chili paste
  • 2 teaspons minced ginger
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with warm water.
    Mix the vinegar, brown sugar, sherry and soy sauce in a stainless steel pot, and start to heat on hot until it begins to bubble. Start stirring. Then add the chili paste and minced ginger. Keep stirring. The recipe turned out so well that I’d recommend sticking with the minced (MINCED not puree) ginger rather than grating it fresh because it absorbs into the sauce so well, and  you don’t end up with threads of ginger in the sauce or worse, in your teeth. The Sambal Oleck in the jar is also recommended rather than add straight hot sauce, also because it absorbs well and is not quite as hot as the bottled sauce. People want it hotter just put the Chinese hot sauce on the table. Once everything is well mixed and bubbling add the cornstarch mixed with water mixture to thicken the sauce. This is the only recipe I can remember in which I use cornstarch. Had to go into Gimli to buy some. I have made this with flour and water, but consistency is an important part of enjoying this sauce. Cornstarch is better. Remember to keep stirring until you reach your desired thickness. The variations from the original recipe  are primarily to do with proportions (measurements) except for the bottled minced ginger and hot fresh ground chili paste. Oh my! There finally is the piquancy I’ve been looking for in this sauce! So it’s new name in my recipe book as Sweet Hot & Sour Sauce.

    Cooking, preparing, and keeping the ribs
    Buy a lot of ribs, one package can be enough if it’s huge. I bought two packages because I wanted to try a new way of eating them as leftovers. Sweet and sour ribs go on sale regularly and are pretty cheap, because of all the bones. This is a good thing because the flavour for most meat comes from being close to the bone, or fat. That is why when I buy pork chops, I buy them still on the bone.  Value for money, more flavour, cheaper price. Be prepared for an incredibly messy finger licking meal once the sauce is poured over the ribs.Par boil the ribs, Cut the ribs into the sizes you prefer and put them in a pot of boiling water.  They need to be in boiling water for about 3 minutes.
    Using tongs remove the ribs and place on  a big roasting pan, or two medium, and brush them well with soy sauce. A bit of a rack can help, but I recommend using parchment (a big discovery this winter!) under the ribs racked or not, because the pan becomes so much easier to clean.
    Bake the ribs at 350 for an hour, which is my preference. I’ve learned if I crank up the heat because I am  in a hurry they’ll dry up.
    Cooking Rice
    Use long grain white rice, two cups of water to one cup of rice. Stir it and watch it until it boils, and immediately turn down to simmer and cover. Don’t mess with it. Getting the rice you like is a lot about timing and it should be perfect somewhere between 18 to 22 minutes depending on the variables of heat (it should JUST be bubbling while it simmers) and water to rice ratio. Covering it makes a difference, and yes often the heat will be a little high and it’ll bubble over onto the stove. Use a bigger pot next time, or pay closer attention. If it boils dry, the rice will burn to the bottom.
    Enjoy
    Scoop up some of the lovely soft fluffy white rice onto a dinner plate, place at least 4 to 6 rib portions on top of the rice and cover with the sauce. Silicon tongs are marvelous for handling ribs throughout. There can never be enough sauce, though I doubt David Arnason was thinking about Sweet Hot & Sour Sauce as the inspiration for the title of his recent story collection.Leftovers
    Depending on the number of the people it’s likely you will have ribs left over. Don’t be tempted to put the ribs on the left over rice and pour in what little sauce is left. This week I’ve had ribs three times, and better every time, mostly because I nailed the sauce today. But back to keeping the ribs. Put them in a Tupperware or Rubbermaid container with a lid that seals, once the ribs have cooled. Refrigerate. The next time you serve them you’ll heat them again, but I’m finding the microwave actually does a better job here because you can leave the ribs in the container, and loosely leave the lid on and start on the reheat or defrost setting, tasting to be sure, and then in the last minute or two use the high setting. Make fresh sauce every-time, rice too. I’ve heard these ribs can be frozen, but I’ve never had them last long enough to do it.

Listen to work in progress

The Jimmy Bang Blues Project from The Complete Jimmy Bang Poems

 

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Victor Enns writes poetry, reads,and reviews fiction. Boy (Hagios 2012) was published in May, and Lucky Man, (Hagios 2005) was short-listed for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award.

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