The name "steamed ribs" may not be particularly appealing to many of you. Perhaps this fact is why Charles Phan left out the adjective when naming the Black Bean-Glazed Pork Spareribs in his cookbook, Vietnamese Home Cooking. But consider this: When cooked properly, steamed fish, dumplings, and vegetables take on a silky smooth and supple texture. Why not apply the technique to pork ribs?
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Is there anything more boring than steamed tofu? I adore tofu when it's pan-fried, or slipped into some luxurious sauce. But I tend to pass the steamed version as quickly as possible. So why did I settle on this recipe from Food and Wine? Maybe it was the fermented black beans, which lend a meatiness to everything they touch. I can safely say, I was thinking more of the shrimp than the tofu when digging into this dish.
It's an odd dish, to be sure. For whatever reason, the eggplant chunks come out tasting astonishingly like pineapple. There's something funky going on with how how the lime juice, honey, ginger, and eggplant all mix together. I make no claims for this being authentic to any region, but it does taste surprisingly good.
I'm fond of all poultry feet. Goose and duck feet have ample amounts of webbing; when stewed, they are delicate and tender with a hint of chewiness that resembles the texture of simmered sheets of bean curd. While goose and duck feet are more prized in Chinese cuisine, I prefer the meatiness of a chicken's foot.