Monday, March 22, 2010

Salt and Pepper Ribs

Okay, so it's day 2 of eating out of the freezer week and I am already cheating.  We knew I wouldn't be able to keep myself from veering off course.  In my own defense, due to parking circumstances, I found myself in the store having to buy something.  Baby back ribs were on special.  They were previously frozen... just not in my freezer.  Trying to come up with ribs I hadn't made before proved to be a challenge.  I feel as though I've been on a pork odyssey, but one thing I haven't done yet is fry them.  
You can find spare ribs in an Asian market already cut into strips and you just have to section them by cutting between the bones.  If you buy a rack of back ribs, have your butcher cut them length wise once or twice so that you have small pieces of ribs.  I had not done this since I wasn't sure how I was going to cook them when I bought them.  So, I found myself with my large Chinese meat cleaver chopping each piece in half.  This is the only knife that will cut through the bone.  If you are going to try this, make sure you do it on a large, thick butcher block.  Otherwise, I would fear cracking your countertop if it's made of stone, like mine is.  It must be done with conviction and precision and with all fingers far away from the cutting area.  In my parents' restaurant, we had one of those stand alone butcher block tables.  Over time, there developed a large round concavity, like a divot, from all of the chopping and scraping done on it.  That block saw a lot of good food pass through.   
Marinate the ribs in the following for at least 3 hours, or overnight.  I had about 2 1/2 lbs of ribs.
1/2 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground 5 spice
1/2 tsp salt
a few turns of the pepper mill
a few sprinkles of ground white pepper
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp cooking wine
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Remove ribs from marinade and coat with 3 tbsp of cornstarch.  Heat frying oil to 350f and fry ribs in batches for about 4 minutes each until lightly golden.  Do not overcrowd and move the ribs around in the oil to separate them.   Set the batches aside together.  Then heat the oil back up to 350f and fry all the ribs together for another minute or so until the ribs darken a bit more.  Drain on paper towels.  I like to serve them topped with a mixture of fried green onions, garlic and jalapeno peppers and offer ground white pepper on the side.  Crispy, salty, little bites of yumminess.



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