This is a new month and therefore tonight I start a new cookbook. The cookbook for February is The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines. This was the first cookbook I bought with my own money. I was in Grade 13 when I bought it. It was the year I really got interested in cooking something other than chocolate chip cookies. My mum and I often watched The Frugal Gourmet on American PBS together that year and this was the cookbook based on that season's show.
I haven't used it in years but it is a great cookbook and I'm really excited about getting to know it again, read the comments I wrote beside the few recipes I tried, and get to know these "three ancient cuisines" (China, Greece and Rome) better. It should be a lot of fun.
Given that tomorrow is the start of Chinese New Year, I figured it would make sense to do a Chinese recipe first. In fact, I did three of them since I saw that he has a whole chapter called Dim Sum (!). When I bought this book, I wouldn't have even known what Dim Sum was. Things have changed since then and now Dim Sum is one of my favourite meals although I've never tried to make any of the dishes at home.
So, tonight I made Pork Shu Mei, Shrimp Boats and Spare Ribs with Black Beans and Pepper Sauce. I bought barbecued pork buns at the Chinese grocery store because it isn't Dim Sum without them but there's no way I was going to make those, too.
John and I thought the spare ribs were the best out of everything, although we loved it all. Emily and Hope wouldn't touch any of it, which blew me away because the last time we went out for Dim Sum I was completely wowed by how much they both ate. I guess it was an off night or they missed the ambiance of the restaurant.
Here is the recipe for the ribs:
1 pound pork spareribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp ginger, freshly grated
Blanch ribs in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain well. Soak in marinade for 20 minutes. Heat a wok and fry the ribs until lightly browned. Remove from wok and drain the oil. Add 2 tbsp fresh oil, 3 cloves chopped garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Fry until the garlic browns just a bit and then add 1 tbsp ferment black beans, rinsed, pinch of sugar and 1 tsp red chili paste. Return the ribs to the wok and toss in the sauce. Place in a steaming dish and steam for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the ribs are very tender.
These went beyond my expectations. I made one major change to the recipe; I didn't steam the ribs. Instead, I let them simmer in the sauce in the wok for about 20 minutes. They tasted amazing and I would do them the same way again. The sauce stuck to them better than it would in the steaming method. I know this because the steaming method is how they do it at Dim Sum restaurants and the ribs are great, but these were better.
Happy Year of the Rat everyone (coming from a Rat herself)!