Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

[Photograph: Nick Kindersperger]

I'm so entrenched into the smoky world of barbecue that I sometimes feel like the only respectable and correct way to cook spare ribs is low and slow on a pit. Trust me—when you've tasted the saucy specimens of Cozy Corner you might agree that I'm on to something. But while those are undeniably tasty, this theory isn't exactly practical for a weeknight meal. Luckily, other cuisines disagree with me and have developed artful ways of cooking ribs quickly that come out just as delicious.

There is no better example than these gloriously messy sweet and sour ribs. This recipe comes by way of the Steamy Kitchen, who adapted it from Fuschia Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. The ribs are cooked in an aromatic liquid before being stir fried with more aromatics. Then they're covered in mixture of dark soy and sugar, which reduces to a sticky sweet sheen.

Though the recipe claims you could substitute balsamic vinegar for the Chinese black vinegar, they really are too different. The black vinegar provides the recipe with its much needed sour note. Otherwise it'd end up a little too sweet. I'd suggest a hunt through the local Asian market, or you can simply order it here. Also, the ribs need to be cut into two-inch sections. If you don't have a mammoth cleaver that can do the job, just ask the butcher to do for you.

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