Braised spare ribs with fermented bean paste is a simple comfort food that most Chinese home-cooks would have known. Although simple, this dish is heavily flavoured. You would find salty, sweet, hot and a hint of sour, all packed in a dish. The addition of bean paste and preserved black beans, combined with the aromatics, elevates the dish further. It has this distinct "like it or leave it" aroma just like the smell of salted fish. Definitely not a dish to be missed!
As this dish has all the different flavours, it is essential that you get your braised spare ribs with fermented bean paste combination correct. I was trying very hard to emulate the same flavour but failed after several tries. Since this is my mom's dish, I called my mom in to "fix" it. She took a sip, literally throw in some sugar and some water and bam! The old taste magically appeared! I really have to give her two thumbs up!
As you already know, this dish is heavily flavoured and pungent. This is the kind of dish that my family members love. Therefore, whenever this is cooked, it is cooked in a large quantity. The flavour seems to get better too when you happen to put it overnight.
Braised Spare Ribs with Fermented Bean Paste (Tauchu) 豆酱炖排骨
1.2 kg spare ribs, cut into 2" pieces
1.5 to 2 cups of water
30 g old ginger, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chilli, chopped finely
2 tbsp fermented bean paste
1 tbsp preserved black beans, chopped
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp tapioca starch mixed with 1 tbsp water
3 tbsp sugar (or more)
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
3 tsp vinegar
1. Heat oil in wok. Add in garlic and ginger. Sautee until fragrant. Then add in fermented bean paste and black beans and continue to sautee. By now you would get a really pungent aroma engulfing your kitchen.
2. Add in spare ribs and stir-fry in high heat until you see ribs starting to release oil.
3. Add in water and all seasoning except dark soya sauce. Water should just reach to top of the ribs but not covering the ribs. Lower heat to smallest and cover wok. Braise for 45 minutes or until ribs are tender. Check and stir once or twice during braising. Make sure water does not dry out. If water dries out, add a little more water. Normally this does not happen.
4. When ribs becomes tender, remove cover and increase heat to reduce water. This dish should have about 3/4 cup of gravy. Don't forget to skim off the fats that are now floating on top. Add in dark soya sauce. When water is reduced, add in cornstarch mixture to thicken and remove from fire. Don't forget to taste and add whatever is necessary. It is essential to get a perfect combination.
The seasoning might seem a lot but this is a dish with a lot of gravy. Therefore, the flavour is in the gravy. You need to be a little heavy handed.