Saturday, 22 December
Japanese-Style Braised Spareribs, page 437
Ms. Shimbo notes that spareribs are not traditionally Japanese, but she includes this recipe in her book which uses a traditional Japanese braising liquid (sake, shoyu, and komezu). She advises that the ribs can be cooked in the morning and reheated at dinner-time for a denser sauce. Because there are only the two of us in Chez Tess, we had the opportunity to eat these a second time. The sauce did not really become “denser,” but the flavors blended; and they did, indeed, taste great the second time around.
I wish that my pictures could include smell. The marinade of soy sauce, toban jiang (Japanese chili bean paste), Worcestershire sauce, and honey was wonderful. I cut the ribs apart and they bathed in this perfumed bath for more than the 30 minutes the recipe called for while I prepped some other food for Sunday.
I browned the ribs in a wok, then put them into a pot with the braise liquid. It is not a lot of liquid, barely coming halfway up the meat. This liquid was sake, sugar and water. The ribs cooked, covered for 20 minutes (per the book, but they were still very undercooked, so I did about 10 minutes longer).
Ms. Shimbo tells the cook to add more soy sauce, and some rice vinegar (komezu), and to continue cooking the ribs for 10 more minutes on low heat. Perhaps my “low heat” was too low, but it was more like 20 minutes. The meat was very tender.
The ribs are put onto a serving plate on a bed of chrysanthemum leaves (shungiku). The greens are briefly cooked, then rolled in a rolling mat and cut into 2″ lengths.
It really is difficult to make meat look attractive in photos. This recipe was very nice, but I don’t think it will replace spareribs grilled in the summer, with wood smoke and a caramelized sweet/hot sauce.
The ribs were served with plain rice, the greens, and some purchased Korean tofu with spices, and organic grape tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Question for pork experts: I bought almost 5 pounds of spareribs (they ARE mostly bone) where her recipe called for only 1 1/2 pounds. No way would 1 1/2 pounds of these spareribs feed four people for dinner. There were some much more expensive ribs called “back ribs” in the grocery store, but they did not appear to have significantly more meat—though they were more evenly shaped. There were also “boneless country-style loin ribs” which looked like they were very meaty, but they looked like loin cut into thick strips. Perhaps Ms. Shimbo meant for me to use “country ribs” which in my grocery store are cut from the shoulder.
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