This modern Cantonese dish has a convoluted history. Known as "jing du pai gu" in Mandarin, the provenance of the name refers to ribs cooked "in the style of the capital". Today that means Beijing, but given that the dish resembles the famous Jiangsu Wuxi spare ribs it may be that it refers not to the northern capital of Beijing, but the historical southern capital of Nanjing. Don't worry too much about the history though, because they are both easy to make and absolutely delicious.
- 1 kg short-cut pork ribs, divided into individual ribs
- 2 tbsp cornflour, plus extra, for dusting
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 egg white
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 1-2 litres canola oil, for deep-frying, plus 1 tbsp for wok frying
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 60 ml (¼ cup) tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp white vinegar or rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) stock or water
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: 1 hour
1. Combine the pork ribs with the cornflour, Shaoxing wine, egg white, salt and pepper and marinate for at least 1 hour.
2. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a large saucepan or wok to 170˚C. Transfer half the ribs to a clean bowl and scatter with extra cornflour, tossing to coat. Deep-fry the ribs for 5-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your ribs. If just using the bone portion of the ribs 5 minutes should be enough, but if the ribs contain more of the belly, fry them for 8 minutes. Remove from the oil and set aside, then repeat with the remaining ribs.
3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Heat a wok over medium heat. Add a drizzle of oil and the garlic and fry until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the ribs and toss to coat until the sauce is thickened, then serve.
Adam Liaw visits bushfire-affected communities and creates dishes using their local produce in Adam Liaw's Road Trip for Good.