Mom’s black bean spareribs

 

My mom mixed bite-sized chunks of pork spareribs with a pungent mix of fermented black beans, garlic, and ginger. As the pork steamed, this combo of seasonings infused the pork with savory punch and filled the kitchen with mouth-watering aromas. In about an hour, with relatively little hands-on work, a succulent, intensely flavorful dish emerged.

Although the Cantonese also claim this dish, I prefer my mom’s more robust Hakka version. She used a generous measure of fermented black beans and often coarsely crushed them with the garlic and ginger to release their essence. She mixed the paste with soy sauce and the pork, then steamed the meat until meltingly tender.

Fermented black beans (aka preserved or salted black beans)

The fermented black beans (also called salted or preserved black beans), are small black soybeans fermented with salt and spices until soft and pungent. Add to meats, seafood, and stir-fries to contribute a distinctive funky, earthy flavor. Look for the beans in small plastic pouches or cardboard cartons in Asian markets.

Mom’s Black Bean Pork Spareribs

Ask the butcher to saw across the spareribs to make about 1 inch wide strips. Most Asian markets sell ribs precut into strips. Serve with hot rice to soak up the plentiful juices.

Makes 4 main-course servings or 6 to 8 servings as part of a multi-course meal

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) or dry Sherry

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 pounds pork spareribs, sawed across bone into 1-inch wide strips

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion (optional)

 

1. In a wide shallow heatproof rimmed dish that will fit inside a steamer such as a 9-inch Pyrex pie dish, mix soy sauce, wine, and cornstarch. (If desired, for a more intense flavor, lightly crush fermented black beans, garlic, and ginger in a mortar and to make a coarse paste. Skip this step for a chunkier texture.) Mix fermented black beans, garlic, and ginger with soy mixture.

2. Trim off and discard large pads of surface fat off pork. Cut ribs apart between bones. Add pork to soy mixture and mix to coat.

3. Set dish on a rack over boiling water in a steamer or wok. Cover and steam over high heat until pork is tender to bite, 50 to 60 minutes. If water evaporates before steaming is complete, add more boiling water as needed. Carefully remove dish from steamer. Skim fat from juices and discard. Garnish with green onions.

 

 

Hakka steamed pork and eggs

Steamed Pork and EggLast month I wrote about Hakka dishes for Chinese New Year.  I had asked a Hakka Facebook group what were some of their favorites. Although many suggested fancy dishes, some elected simple family favorites. One dish was Steamed Minced Pork with Egg (ju ngiuk jin gai chun) also known and steamed pork hash or steamed pork cake.

This pale steamed pork and egg patty looks rather plain and humble, but it packs lots of flavor and comfort food satisfaction.  It is easy and quick to make. Mix minced or ground pork with eggs and seasonings, them steam to make a soft, juicy savory meat patty, similar to a steamed meatloaf.

Steamed Minced Pork and Egg

This version is adapted from a recipe from my friend Fah Liong. It contains Tianjin (Tienstin) preserved vegetables often sold in squat brown crocks in Asian markets. The dry chewy shreds of fermented cabbage add a savory, garlicky, saltiness. If unavailable, omit the preserved vegetables and add more soy sauce. For another version see page 148 in The Hakka Cookbook.

Makes 4 servings as a main dish or 8 servings as part of a multi-course meal

1 pound ground pork

1/2 cup minced shallots or onion

1/3 cup Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) or water

2 tablespoons rinsed minced Tianjin preserved vegetable or 2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

1. In a medium bowl mix the pork, shallots, wine, preserved vegetable, eggs, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper. Lightly pat the pork mixture into an even layer in an 8- to 9-inch wide shallow heatproof dish that will fit in a steamer such as a Pyrex pie pan.

2. Set the dish on a rack over 2 to 4 inches boiling water in a steamer or wok (if bottom is round, place on a wok ring to stabilize). Cover and steam over high heat until the meat is no longer pink in center (cut to test) about 20 minutes. Watch the water level, adding more boiling water as needed. Carefully remove the dish from steamer. Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.