GLUTEN-FREE / DAIRY-FREE
No deep-frying, no cooking oil, and no artificial coloring or flavoring, I love making these tender and scrumptious pork ribs with 100% natural ingredients and a fruity twist. With this stove-top recipe where the ribs are cooked in liquid, you won’t ever have to worry about them turn out being too dry. Just allow a little time, the ribs always come out tender and juicy.
Although this recipe involves a few more steps than most of my other recipes, each step is simple and fool-proof. Forget about the greasy takeaways covered in commercial sauces, make this favorite Chinese classic the way it deserves.
SWEET AND SOUR PORK RIBS WITH PINEAPPLE
GLUTEN-FREE / DAIRY-FREE
MAKE 4 servings PREPARATION 5 min COOK 40 min
- 1kg (2 lbs) pork ribs
- 1 cup of fresh pineapple pieces
- thumb-sized ginger, slice a few times
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp balsamic or apple cider vinegar
- 3 tsp corn starch mixed with 6 tsp of water
- Cut up the ribs between the bones and wash in cold water. Change the water a few times until the water is clear. Drain and pat dry the ribs with a paper towel and set aside. Start boiling 1 litre of water in a water jug for use later.
- To make the caramel, dissolve the sugar in 4 tablespoons of water in a wok, then bring the liquid to boil on high heat. When the liquid starts to bubble, turn the heat to medium. Stirring the liquid with a small spoon until the liquid reassembles the color and consistency of syrup.
- Add the ribs into the wok, turn the heat on high, stir constantly for 1 to 2 minutes until most of the ribs are coated with the caramel and turn golden. Add the ginger and soy sauce, stir fry for another minutes to mix.
- Add the boiled water to almost cover the ribs completely. Cover the wok with a lid and let the liquid boil on medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Mix in the pineapple pieces and continue to boil for another 10 minutes. Take off the lid, add the vinegar, turn the heat on high and boil for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid by about half.
- Push the ribs to the side of the wok, pour the corn starch mix very slowly into the boiling liquid, stir constantly until the liquid becomes a gravy, turn off the heat and discard unused corn starch mix.
Recipe Notes and Substitutes
- Note the vinegar is added towards the end of cooking. This is to prevent too much vinegar evaporating leaving the dish a weaker taste.
- For the cooking wine, I have used from red wine, Sake, to sherry and beer, or no wine at all if I don’t have any. Honestly, I can’t taste much difference.
- The pineapple can be left out if it is not your thing, and be replaced with 1 tablespoon of vinegar or 2 tablespoons of a tangy fruit sauce.
Caramel gives this dish its signature rich flavor and golden color, from scratch. When I first started making this dish, I followed the traditional way of making caramel in a small amount of hot oil. I didn’t have success every time, and I really didn’t like the smoke. After some research, I started to make caramel in water. Once I started doing that, success every time! Not only my pinch point for cooking this dish was gone, I also got a recipe that required no cooking oil. A rare instance for a main dish of any kind, do you agree?
So where did I get the idea of pineapples for spare ribs? I know that some home and restaurant cooks would add sweet and sour tasting fruit sauce (such as plum sauce) in addition to vinegar to achieve a more interesting flavor. But being the person I am and reluctant to buy another processed item comes in a bottle, I decided to use fresh pineapple pieces instead. As it turns out, not only I love the fruity flavor pineapple lends to this dish, I also absolutely love the extra color and texture of the pineapple pieces!