If clean eating, Paleo, low carb, food is your thing, then look away now. This dish is pretty bad for you in so many ways . . . . but it’s unbelievably delicious! How can something that tastes so right be so wrong?
This recipe for Chinese style spare ribs was given to me about 20 years ago, by a work colleague in Hong Kong. During my five years there I tried to immerse myself in the Hong Kong way of life, working as a children’s wear designer for a local retail fashion chain. At head office there were about 200 local Chinese employees, two girls from the UK and me. After a couple of years the UK girls moved on, and I became further absorbed into the fabric of local life. I think maybe my colleagues adopted me as their pet, doing their best to teach me to speak Cantonese and taking me out every lunch time to eat at local haunts. Learning the language was challenging, to put it mildly, and there was some give and take. At the end of my time there everyone on my team spoke Chinglish.
I love Chinese food and did my best to replicate favourite dishes at home, with some success I might add. This easy recipe was quickly jotted down on a scrap of paper by my friend and head of kid’s merchandising, Joanna Yu, and I know it sounds corny, but it really is a taste sensation – sticky, sweet, sour, salty, fall off the bone, finger-licking good. It’s pretty impressive, and not too tricky. Seriously though, don’t make it any more often than once or twice a year. I’m not taking any responsibility for expanding waist-lines.
I hadn’t cooked this recipe for ages, and got confused at the butchers and came home with pork belly ribs instead of pork spare ribs. I cooked them anyway, cut into approx. 3cm chunks, and they worked a treat – very succulent, but rather rich. The eagle-eyed among you will notice pork belly in the first photo. I meant to save some to photograph the final dish, but we ate them all. I made the whole dish again the next week with pork spare ribs, and that’s what you see in the final photo.
It looks a little arty and nouvelle cuisine perhaps – don’t worry, we ate much more than this – two ribs were all we could spare for the photo. Twice in a fortnight despite my own warning! We may be on a family clean-eating purge for a few weeks now.