Steamed Spareribs with Bean Paste

When I feel down and out, I always head out to my cave. That cave is in Chinatown where it seems that every time I do my weekly grocery, I discover a small store that sells something very unique from all other stores that are usually selling one and the same thing. That’s Chinatown and actually East Asia for you in a small two to three block radius at the downtown core. I’d go to Chinatown to unwind and to eat either dimsum or noodles. A Chinese feast is reserved for the Chinese New Year or a small gathering with friends whom I don’t normally see as often.  I’m almost always either alone doing my thing or everybody is else is busy doing their thing. At any rate, Chinatown is my hiding place; away from the noise, the people and the food of the place where I work. That’s one thing I want to be away from on the eve of my day-off, which rarely happens over the summer.

Just recently, I posted a Beef Tripe Dimsum which I would order at my favourite hide away on my weekly visit. And to pair the tripe with is a Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce.  I just love this Steamed Pork Rib by itself or with Rice. The sauce that’s poured on the meat with rice makes it stand out and shine.  I love it both ways, and it totally depends on the time I arrive at the restaurant to order my regular fares. If I come in early, I would usually just enjoy my tea for ten to fifteen minutes until the carts start rolling out from the kitchen and the dimsum ladies begin their shouting sell-off. Many of these women don’t speak or speak little English and the only way to have your way is to stand up and check the carts themselves or ask the servers to be on the safe side. I do that and have been lucky lately of choosing the most delectable and sometimes unrecognizable dimsum. I stay safe, and stick to my regulars. If there are new ones, I consider myself lucky. I gun for meat, nothing else. Everything else is more or less the same.  I’m sure to sleep soundly after that.

I like my dimsum savoury. I noticed that the dimsum in other carts are also available outside except maybe for the congee and the wraps which have to be served as fresh as possible. Otherwise, many are accessible to the public in the market itself.

I’ve seen the ribs at the grocery shelves and envisioned how it’s cooked and prepared. I was lucky enough to recapture the taste to my liking. I know that Fermented Black Beans or Black Bean Paste is commonly and traditionally used by many .  However, I decided to use the Bean Paste I had in fridge, and it didn’t frustrate me.

Ingredients:

  • Package of Pork Ribs
  • Bean Paste
  • Ginger, Julienned
  • Green Onion, Julienned
  • Garlic, minced
  • Shaoxing Cooking Wine
  • Cornstarch
  • Ground Black Pepper

Cut the ribs in bite size pieces and marinate with Light Soy Sauce and Shaoxing Cooking Wine.

Dust with cornstarch, and season with salt and pepper.

Mince some garlic and chop a stalk of green onion and sauté in a wok followed by the pork ribs.

Dowse with Shaoxing Cooking Wine and continue stirring. Let it boil to simmer once and transfer to ramekins.

Add about ½ teaspoon of bean paste in the ramekin bowl and let it steam until tender.

Garnish with finely julienned Green Onion and Ginger.

Steamed Fish Head with Ginger, Leeks & Green Onion

It took me and my dad a total of about three hours to reach the piggery farm my dad owned and managed in Plaridel, Bulacan.  My dad’s work was just beginning, and my journey to hunt for bull frogs from the depths of the fish pond was in full force. I had an air gun I’d bring every time whenever me and my father visited the farm and just for the fun of it, shoot bull frogs peeping from the ledges of the pond.  That made my morning. After about another hour or so, lunch was ready. It was almost always prepared by the family entrusted by my dad to manage the farm, and they surely knew how to make something out of nothing. I really didn’t expect much from lunch, but the tilapia that was raised from the fishpond was amazingly tastier and fresher than the usual fried tilapia served by the household help for dinner.  It was grilled at either close charcoal or cooked by firewood, and that I guess brought more taste into the fish itself.  It just came out amazingly succulent and divine.

I would usually devour a whole fish just for myself. I really didn’t mind if there were ten thousand flies hovering and pestering us over lunch. They made the meal even more memorable, so to speak.  I enjoyed the simplicity of seating down on a wooden bench and table, munching the grilled fish and sucking the soul out of the poor thing. I ate every part of the fish as taught to me by my dad.  I do the same for tuyo and tinapa.

I still can’t muster to eat the eyes, but the head of the fish, for me, is the best and juiciest portion of the entire fish. I love sucking the nitty-gritty parts of the fish head and bones down to its tail. That’s how juicy it was. There was something which made the taste of the fish flutter and fly as against those sold and cooked in Manila.

I don’t normally cook nor eat fish. There’s that unusual wet market smell that clings to clothes which totally turns me off whenever I decide to buy one in Chinatown. I would usually go for frozen fish for safety and hygienic reasons. I’d really prefer pork, meat for that matter, to satisfy my hunger after a long and tiring day at work.  However, after some quick research, I discovered some ways of preparing the fish head. Moreover, I really missed sucking the fish head itself.

I really wouldn’t have the chance to grill nor roast fish on open charcoal. It’s just impossible to do so living in a room in an apartment building. The oven is also out of the question.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Fish Head (Carp)
  • A Stalk of Green Onion & Leek (Julienned)
  • Ginger (Julienned)
  • ½-1 tsp. Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 – 2 tbsps. Light Soy Sauce
  • ½ tsp. Brown Sugar
  • ½-1 tbsp. Shaoxing Cooking Wine
  • Ground Black Pepper

Wash and pat dry the Fish Head & season with salt and pepper.

Dredge with cornstarch and pan-fry and/or deep-fry.

Place the julienned ginger, green onion, and leek on the plate first before resting the fish. Drizzle with Shaoxing Cooking Wine, Light Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce and sprinkle with brown sugar.

Steam the plate in a bamboo steamer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Garnish with ginger, green onion and leek and pour or drizzle with hot peanut oil before serving.

Beef Tripe

I am an avid martial arts fan; traditional martial arts that is. I began training Tai Chi back in 2000 after training in the external martial arts almost all my life. I love Tai Chi.  It was at the start of the millennium that my training metamorphosed into a gentler and more relaxed approached. I was not as temperamental as I was ten years before that just because of  Tai Chi.  I grew as a martial artist and so did the art I learned to love anew. My perspective towards external arts diminished and I was opened to a new form of training so much different from what I used to train. The concept circled around breathing, relaxation and enjoyment of training. It never dealt with angst, anger, struggle, and fear; of being always ahead of the game.  That was a whole new concept interpreted into a fighting form and art, and it was a very refreshing approach for someone who has been stuck in the same, old training as traditionally taught by teachers to students.

Anyway, what I really enjoyed after a hard’s day training that lasted for three hours was the close proximity of many dimsum and noodle houses in Manila’s Chinatown. That was the treat I had always wanted and waited after training. I would usually eat ‘Chicken Feet’ and ‘Fried Taro,’ however, I wouldn’t let the Beef Tripe escape my weekly cravings. I would order one alongside my regulars. Rice was off the list. It was dimsum and, to enjoy the small treats, eating rice, in my book, was prohibited.

I had never learned how to cook nor distinguish Beef Tripe up until I discovered the grocery shelves in Toronto’s Chinatown. The groceries had a massive line-up of delectable and sometimes unrecognizable inner parts of the beef and the pig, and everything was raw, cured and or pickled and supposedly edible. I saw the Towel and Honeycomb Beef Tripe sitting at one of the shelves and grabbed hold of a portion of the smoother, more edible looking Towel Tripe.

Cooking the Beef Tripe is easy, but quite time consuming. Nevertheless, the finished product came out exactly like those I have tasted in Manila and Toronto’s Chinatowns; actually even better with the more seasoning I added in the pot.

Ingredients:

  • 1 portion Beef Tripe (Towel)
  • 3-4 Slices of Ginger
  • 2-3 Stalks Green Onions
  • 1 small White Onion
  • Black Peppercorns
  • 2-3 cups of Chicken Stock

Wash and rinse the Beef Tripe.

Start boiling a small pot of Chicken Stock, add some pieces of ginger and green onion stalks and black peppercorns together with the Beef Tripe.Let the pot boil to simmer for an hour or so; checking the doneness of the Beef Tripe every now and then. Cooking times would vary depending on how much Tripe is in the pot.  Add more stock or water if necessary when the stock level reduces.  Let the Beef Tripe cool down and chop into bite size pieces.

In a small bowl, scoop some stock from the pot, followed by the Beef Tripe and top with thinly sliced ginger and green onions.