Before this week even wraps up, I'd already made this particular one twice for dinner! So, you can imagine the power of this dish. 係啲咩名堂啊？(What is it?) Well, it was baked spare ribs that turned out to taste VERY similar to our beloved char siew (叉燒), or Cantonese barbequed pork. Even though it was baked, I almost felt like I'd grilled the ribs instead. Also, another great thing came from the marinade! The combo of the ingredients used blended harmoniously ... You could already taste it with your nose even before putting the cooked ribs into your mouth!
I only did some things differently from Siukwan's though. Instead of leaving the row of spare rib intact, I went ahead with the already-cut up ones that I'd kept frozen. So, the baking time was reduced. And, I used preserved whole black beans; all they needed was to be mashed up well. I also left out 沙薑 and used a teeny bit of ground turmeric even though I know they're different things. And pardon me, I really have no clue what 沙薑 is called in English other than knowing that it's a type of ginger that can't be simply replaced by its cousins. Cantonese commonly uses it in cooking such as for making 沙薑雞 (i.e. 沙薑chicken.) Wikipedia doesn't even have an article about it! If you know the answer, please enlighten me on that. Thanks!
A final note: the recipe below is best used as a reference rather than as a dead formula. Cooking is all about eyeballing, practicing and understanding the ingredients that you use. A recipe that works for others may not work for you. So, adjust it according to your preference. Just yesterday night, I heard over the radio that Indian cooks can't actually taste-test their cooking upon serving! Due to their religious customs, foods have to be "served" and sacrificed to gods first before humans can get their first bite. Imagine all the eyeballing that's going on in the kitchen! So, be flexible while you're having fun cooking with the recipe below.
By the way, 端午節快樂！(Happy Dragon Boat Festival!)
Chinese-Style Baked Spare Ribs 金沙骨 (adapted from Siukwan's):
600g Spare rib (leave them intact rather than cut up)
*Or, you can do what I did by using cut-up ones instead
3 bulbs garlic, minced
2 bulbs shallots, minced
3/4 tsp salt
3-1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice powder (五香粉)
1/2 tsp 沙薑粉 *I left this out and used a bit of ground turmeric instead
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese rose wine, a.k.a. mei kuei lu chiew (玫瑰露酒) *Can't be replaced!
1-1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed ginger juice
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce (海鮮醬)
1 Tbsp preserved black bean paste (磨豉醬)
3 Tbsp maltose
1-1/2 Tbsp water
- Wash and pat dry the spare rib, score a line vertically on it
- Marinate the rib with (A) overnight covered in the refrigerator
*Overnight marinating is a must for the best flavor
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
- Line a baking tray with aluminum foil to catch the "run-off" of the sauce and grease during cooking (and to make your life easier with less mess and stubborn dishes to deal with!) Then, place a metal rack used for baking over the lined tray
- Drain the rib from the marinade and arrange it over the rack, then bake for 20 minutes
- Remove the rib from the oven and flip it over to bake its other side for 15 minutes
- Soften up the maltose in a bowl that's placed sitting in a tub of hot water, then dissolve it completely in the 1-1/2 Tbsp water
*I microwaved a little bit of water and quickly stir the hot water with the maltose till dissolved
- Reduce oven temperature to 160C/320F
- Glaze one side of the rib with the maltose mixture, then bake for 5 minutes; repeat the same with the other side
- Cut up and serve the rib hot, warm or cold (I had mine cold)
Note: Ovens are different from one to another, so are the sizes of spare ribs. Please adjust the cooking time accordingly.