Hailing from Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, this spiced pork spare rib recipe features the infamous numbing-heat combination of Sichuan peppercorns and chillies. As their name suggests, Sichuan peppercorns originate in this province, and chilli is also a key ingredient in Sichuan cuisine, with many dishes containing several fresh and dried varieties, plus extra chilli oil for serving. The pork needs to be marinated overnight to allow the hot-sweet flavours to develop.
- 500 ml (2 cups) Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) (see note)
- 2 tbsp five-spice powder
- 1 kg pork spare ribs, cut into rib pieces
- 8 cloves garlic, 4 bruised, 4 thinly sliced
- 8 cm piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
- 4 dried long red chillies
- 6 star anise
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 litre vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1 long red chilli, sliced
- 1 long green chilli, sliced
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (see note), toasted
- 2 tbsp chilli oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time overnight
Combine the Chinese rice wine and five-spice powder in
a bowl, add ribs and mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain and discard marinating liquid.
Place ribs, bruised garlic, ginger, dried chillies, star anise, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a large saucepan and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour or until tender. Drain and discard liquid and spices. Place ribs on a wire rack set over a tray to dry out.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Fry sliced garlic and sliced red and green chillies for
1 minute or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Working in batches, fry ribs for 4 minutes or until crispy. Drain on paper towel. Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush sea salt and Sichuan peppercorns. Scatter fried garlic, chillies and Sichuan peppercorn salt over ribs and serve drizzled with chilli oil.
• Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) and Sichuan peppercorns are available from Asian food shops.
Photography Brett Stevens