While the family budget has been a little tight lately, I absolutely could not resist buying a package of pork spare rib tips from Lee’s Market when I was in there the other day. It’s smaller than the Asian Food Market, but lately they have been very pricey, so I thought I’d stop in to Lee’s.
And FYI: Napa cabbage is freaking cheap there – $0.49/lb! Woo hoo! I bought one big head and one small head. I’ve come to realize that fresh veggies are so important when you are on a tight budget. The freshness really just perks me up.
Lee’s also had some discounted veggies – I scored a bag of 3-4 Japanese eggplant for $1. They are on the right of the kimchi- Albany John worked some kitchen voodoo and sauced them when they came out of the steamer. The eggplant were fine – they were a little brown on the outside, but inside they were perfect. After they were cooked you would never have known. I am totally fine with ugly produce.
I was also on an Asian store kick, and ended up going to Lee’s for kimchi ($4.99 for the smaller container) – another vegetable treat. I also figured out just what I’d do with the pork rib tips – black bean sauce! It’s one of my favorite dishes at dim sum – CCK does an excellent rendition of them. I picked up a small bottle of black bean and garlic sauce for $1.49.
I had read different methods for preparing Chinese ribs in black bean sauce – steaming and cooking in a pan. We had a lot, so I tried both. Above is the steamed version. It took a long time because I was also steaming eggplant above it and having that 2nd layer really messed with cooking times. After I removed the eggplant top layer, things went much quicker.
The sauce gathered a lot of water in the process as well. When I first started out, this was more like thickly coated nubbins of pork with sauce. After steaming and trapping some water, it became much more like the gravy you see above.
I loved how it tasted – a bit sweet, meaty, and that gravy was delicious over rice.
These Chinese black bean sauce ribs were so very rich in flavor. They had a deep saltiness, but not one that would make you reach for the water with every bite. Very umami. Incredibly meaty, pungent, and sticky.
Here’s a side by side picture – on the left is the steamed rib, and on the right is the darker pan-cooked rib. I really liked combining the two flavors – a bit of the darker one dipped in the gravy, a bite of each – such good combos! I really couldn’t decide which one I liked better – they are both such winners!
For a group – I think these would be great in a crock pot.
Chinese Black Bean Sauce Ribs:
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T vermouth
½ t ginger, minced
1 T sugar
2.5 T black bean sauce
1-2 lbs pork rib tips
Mix all ingredients and let marinate 30 minutes or longer.
Fill a dish with pork ribs and steam about 20 minutes. Stir half way through to ensure even cooking.
Turn heat on medium-high. Add marinated pork rib tips and brown evenly.
Add ½ C water and turn heat down to a simmer.Cover and cook at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done, take the cover off and reduce liquid.
Note on black bean sauces:
There is a huge variation in the flavors of black bean sauces. I have had some that were good, but very pungent, so the measurment above would be too much. I like sauce that has bits of beans and the occasional whole bean in it best. I think the pureed ones are a bit too gloppy, and the ones that are all whole beans aren’t very sauce-y. I am really fond of the one I got that looked a little gloppy, but had minced pieces of black bean in it. Shoot for something in the middle. Lots of garlic never hurts either.