A couple of months ago, I visited a comprehensive organic store and purchased pure blue agave sweetener, a low glycemic item which can be used (check with your physician) for diabetics of particular types who are sugar fiends. On another shopping trip closer to home, I purchased fermented black beans and anise star at an Asian Market, the first which really pack a wallop as far as spice goes so if you decide to play with these, use them judiciously.
Now, sometimes my wife and I look in the refrigerator, and then the freezer, and then at each other, and admit that we are out of ideas. Food may get boring after a fifteen hour day of cooking on the line, and sometimes even I would rather just go out and have someone do it for us. Be that as it may, we feel that the luxury of eating out should not be abused.
So, on yonder to the stove went I. Pulling some beautiful pork ribs from the chill box, I broiled them at 500 degrees (260 Celsius) to get a nice crisp on the outside. I then pulled them out and let the oven cool down to a whopping 195 degrees (90 Celsius) on the bake setting. I created a wet rub, which you will see in the recipe below and cooked them for around ten hours.
When dealing with connective tissue, collagen from bones, and all of that jazz, we don’t have the luxury in this recipe of moisture breaking down the tissue as we would in a stew or braise, or of the same water initiating hydrolysis to draw the collagen out in the form of gelatin as we would in the stock-making process. So, when we need to go dry, we need to go very low, relatively speaking, to perform our magic. This low and dry heat emulates a smoker sans smoke, and the extended cooking time makes the meat fall off of the bones.
Despite this combination of East-West ingredients, these ribs still lean much more towards the Chinese style, with the spicy black beans adding some nice heat to the anise-laced soy sauce and mustard rub. Put it all together, and it lends itself to a nice, warming dish to add to your meal, or even the perfect dish to serve up for the big game on TV.
- For the anise soy sauce, place three anise stars in soy sauce and keep it in the refrigerator. Over time, the soy will assume some of the aroma and flavor of this interesting spice
- Broil the pork ribs whole at 260 degrees (500 Fahrenheit) for ten minutes to darken
- Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender, and puree
- When the ribs are pulled out of the oven, coat with the wet rub
- Turn the oven to 90 degrees (195 Fahrenheit) on Bake and put the ribs in. The extra heat won’t hurt them while the oven is ‘cooling down’
- Keep them in for hours and hours and hours until the meat comes easily off of the bones
- Let them rest for ten minutes, and then separate them into one or two-rib pieces, dousing them with the juices that have accumulated
- Serve with rice or noodles of your choice, plus fresh vegetables
Tip: if you garnish the ribs with a piece of anise star as I did in the photo for dramatic emphasis, please don’t eat it. In the business, we call this “NFG”, or nonfunctional garnish. I would never serve this to a guest, but it does look pretty cool in the picture.