If you were one like me, who do get a little disheartened with the tough and chewy bits of pork chops or ribs you do sometimes get from ordering the "pai kuat wong" 排骨王 (but they usually will still be good taste-wise that I probably will complain for just a short minute, happily chewing the next lol), then this is one that will simply make you so amazed just as soon as you have your very first bite at it. Succulent and fall-off-the-bone ribs so packed and rich in flavors, not only does this make a version so much tastier than my favorite "pai kuat wong" 排骨王 (ops, is that me with my loyalty taking a shift? Nah, they definitely will still be my pick dining out lol), this comes with another big plus in its making; while the conventional way of making the "pai kuat wong" 排骨王 always involves a round of deep frying prior to coating them with the finger-licking, thick-and-gooey sweet and sour gravy, this version comes braised over a duration of time instead. The outcome? One totally comparable to the other, if not better. Yes, that good! - minus the hassle of dealing with a good amount of oil for deep frying and all that splashing commotion, and of course the health-related concern that comes in a package with deep fried food too. Try it for yourself - kids or adults, this is one that anyone from all walks of life will easily fall for!
Sweet and Sour Ribs 糖醋排骨
Adapted from YiReservation
1lb baby back ribs, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1½" to 2" pieces
3 cups water
4 tbsps sugar
2 tbsps black rice vinegar (I used Chinkiang vinegar)
1½ tbsps light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
2 stalks spring onion (just the white parts), cut into 2" sections, lightly crushed
1/2" ginger, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
toasted sesame seeds for garnishing
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Shaoxing wine
1/2 tsp corn starch
1. Have the ribs marinated with the marinade slightly in advance for about an hour or so right until cooking time. Considering the fact that making this involves a braising of up to a good 3 hours, have your time planned out accordingly to suit your serving time.
2. Heat a wok or a skillet over medium heat. Add in 3 tbsps of the sugar together with the water, spring onions, ginger slices and bay leaves. Distribute and arrange the ribs in a single layer around the skillet. Once the content starts to come to a boil, cover and bring the heat down to medium-low. Let simmer for about 2 hours, turning the ribs once in between the process. You may want to be extra gentle with flipping them over - they naturally continue to get a lot more tender with time.
3. After 2 hours, remove the spring onions, ginger and bay leaves from the skillet. Bring the heat up to medium and continue to simmer until the liquid gets reduced to about a cup.
ribs at the end of the two hours of simmering
4. Scatter in the remaining tbsp of sugar followed by the vinegar, light soy sauce and chili sauce. Lightly bathe the ribs with the liquid a couple of times to allow the seasonings to get mixed evenly.
5. Continue to simmer until the liquid gets further reduced appearing viscous, thick and caramelized. At this point, you may want to gently turn the ribs again once to make sure that they are thoroughly and evenly coated with the gravy.
6. Remove from heat, and lightly toss in the minced garlic.
7. Carefully transfer them to a serving plate and sprinkle lightly with some toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot.