For a fleeting moment I was tempted to title this post ‘More Weekend Dude Food’, this recipe for Chinese Style Braised Beef Ribs torn from last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald by my very own resident dude. With my son home for the semester break there has been a bit of a theme developing around our dinner table. Last weekend we devoured soft chicken tacos, true dude fashion, as we watched the rugby. This weekend we cocooned ourselves against biting wintry winds with plates piled high with slow cooked ribs, served simply over steamed rice with a good drizzle of the braising stock. Meals I know he will appreciate and love. As Chef Mimi reminded me last week, sometimes dude food is girl food too. She’s absolutely right. We girls enjoyed those spicy tacos and unctuous ribs just as much as the dudes.
I’ve always been a little in awe of Neil Perry’s recipes. He’s a master of beautifully balanced stocks and braises. These Chinese style braised ribs are no exception. Full of flavour and headily aromatic, it’s hard to fathom that this delicious dish practically looks after itself. There are no fancy techniques. Just a clever combination of ingredients requiring just a little care and preparation. The secret lies in allowing a whole lot of time to weave its magic. From a leisurely overnight marinade in the refrigerator to a long slow braise in my trusty blue Le Creuset pot next day. It really is as simple as that.
Ironically one of my earliest and consistently viewed posts was also for Chinese Style Slow Roasted Beef Ribs. Looking back at that post, there is a definite similarity in base flavour notes. Not surprisingly Neil Perry’s rendition cleverly takes this dish to a whole new level with the addition of red dates. Slow cooked they meld beautifully into the braising stock, lending an almost unidentifiable lusciousness and sweetness to the dish. It’s always so satisfying to improve upon what is already a well loved dish in our repertoire.
Look for the leanest short ribs you can find, this will save endless skimming of fat from the surface of the dish when cooked. To save time I always ask my butcher to trim them well. Another neat trick to quickly removing any residual fat or oil in a slow cooked dish is to dab crumpled sheets of clean paper towel over the surface of the pot. The paper towels will absorb the fats and are easily discarded. Unfortunately I was unable to source Chinese red dates this weekend but desperate to make the recipe regardless, I substituted chopped medjool dates. Ditto the rock sugar. After a quick scan of my pantry cupboards I figured Demerara sugar would work just as well.
These ribs are well on the way to becoming a firm family favourite. They garnered the thumbs up from everyone and are the perfect antidote for bleak wintry weather. Warming and unctuous they filled the house with an inviting aroma, slow cooking at its very best.
Neil Perry’s Chinese-Style Braised Beef Ribs.
From Aroma Explosion. An Article by Neil Perry Sydney Morning Herald 21 July 2014
1.5 kg beef ribs
1/2 cup coriander leaves
10 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup hoi sin sauce
4 long spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
90 ml light soy sauce
60 ml Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
18 red dates ( I substituted 8 medjool dates, diced)
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, unsalted
3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 large pieces of orange peel (using a peeler)
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons rock sugar, crushed (available from Asian supermarkets)( I substituted demerara sugar)
TO MAKE THE MARINADE, mix the garlic and hoisin together to create a paste. Combine the ribs with the marinade and set aside overnight in the fridge
FOR THE BRAISING STOCK, pound the shallots and ginger in a mortar and place in a heavy-based saucepan with remaining ingredients. Add the beef, ensuring the liquid just covers the beef.
BRING to the boil over high heat, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly and simmer very gently for about 2 hours or until meat is tender. If the sauce has not reduced to desired consistency, remove the lid and continue to simmer gently and allow sauce to reduce.
CHECK the balance of flavours, sprinkle with coriander and serve (in the pot in which it was cooked, if desired, or transferred to a large bowl).