This is the inauguration of a new weekly column. Everyone is invited to play. Since we all have to eat, my philosophy has always been that we may as well eat like royalty. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to do so these days, and farmers’ markets have made our cooking lives a joy. So here’s the newest game in town.
Star Wars Ribs (Wuxi Paigu)
This is almost fun to prepare as the kitchen aromas are intoxicating. The Chinese name can be translated as “Vinegar Stewed Pork Ribs” if you want. The recipe is changed significantly from the one I read in Saveur. If I were to give it a more traditional English language name, it would be “Asian Braised Ribs,” but I like the “Star Wars” thing for what I hope is an obvious reason.
1-3/4 pounds country pork ribs, excess fat removed
3 whole star anise
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, season the ribs with pepper, then add them and the anise pods to the hot oil. Brown the ribs on all sides, then add:
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (or 2 teaspoons dried)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
Reduce the wine until almost gone, five minutes, then add:
1/4 cup soya sauce
1-1/4 cups no-salt chicken stock (homemade from leftover barbequed chicken makes it really good)
1 small Spanish onion, diced
Simmer this mixture, uncovered, for half an hour, then add:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
More pepper to taste
Simmer the ribs for about 1-1/2 hours, covered, skim fat, then add:
1 tablespoon sugar
Simmer 30 minutes (but no more than 1 hour), covered, until very tender, then remove cover and allow liquid to reduce until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Serve with rice and steamed peas, and generously ladle sauce over the ribs and rice. Garnish with diced scallions.