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SESAME NOODLES

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SESAME NOODLES

A very long time ago in another place and life, I was introduced to sesame noodles. I wasn’t won over immediately, possibly because I only knew sesame as the decoration on hamburger buns.  I didn’t know about halvah or tahini or benne cookies. After a few false starts, I found a restaurant serving sesame noodles warm (not cold, as I’d been trying them) and was converted, yea verily the scales fell from my eyes.

Since then I’ve made a lotta versions of sesame noodles,  but they always fell short because the only sesame I had was oil and seeds. I rarely saw sesame paste for sale where I lived and when I did see it, it was a giant can that would take years to finish up. So I’d substitute peanut butter, which had a certain appeal but wasn’t really the same thing as what I was after.

The best variation I tried was from Sheila Lukins in The Silver Palate Cookbook, where she made a sesame mayonnaise to be mixed with pasta. It was delicious BUT it made 3 cups – which is a LOT – and I felt rather guilty eating all that pasta lavished with mayonnaise. Not guilty enough to stop eating it, though.

Now I live where tahini (that’s sesame paste) is available in nearly every store. It isn’t the cheapest ingredient on the supermarket shelf but unless you’re making gallons of hummus, it’ll last a while. If you can’t find it, there are directions online for making your own. I’ve decided there are some things – like sushi and filo dough – that I am just not interested in making at home, but have at it if you’re so inclined.

This recipe is a mashup of versions, one from the Lucky Peach Cookbook, one from a cooking blog, plus my own preferences.

SESAME NOODLES WITH VEGETABLES

The sauce:

Combine in a bowl

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use low-salt and think you should too)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (find at Asian market or well-stocked grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (use the unseasoned)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tahini plus some of the oil which will have separated from the paste
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (find at Asian market or well-stocked grocery store)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, depending on how hot you want it (find at Asian market or well-stocked grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine (optional) (find at Asian market or well-stocked grocery store)

You may need to warm the sauce (microwave is fine) to soften the tahini and get everything mixed.

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It won’t look very impressive.

The Vegetables:

Now this part is optional, but if you do this, it becomes a one-dish meal. or you can leave the noodles vegetable-free. Up to you.

Prep some vegetables. How much and which is up to you.

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I sliced a small red onion, some celery, carrots, and red bell pepper, all to be cooked. Raw toppings are some chopped green onions, cilantro, peas, and cucumbers cut into matchsticks; alongside are some edible-pod peas. I chose these veggies because that’s what was in the refrigerator but just about any veg works here.

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I sauteed some veggies until they were almost but not quite tender.

The noodles:

Then I cooked 1 pound linguine until almost but not quite al dente in NONsalted water with a little vegetable oil added. If I’d had rice noodles on hand, that’s what I would have used, but Ronzoni it was. Before the linguine was done, I scooped out 1 cup of the boiling water.

Finishing:

Tossed sauce with the noodles along with about 1/3 cup of the cooking water, then  stirred in the cooked veggies plus some leftover cooked chicken that had been lurking in the refrigerator. Scraped everything out onto a serving platter and topped it with the uncooked vegetables plus some peanuts and  Slug Slime (though toasted sesame seeds would have been fine).

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We let this sit for a while as we listened to the San Francisco Giants lose badly to the Los Angeles Dodgers, then ate this warm-not-hot. It’s good hot, warm, or cold.

 

 

 

 

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PAN-ASIAN NOODLE SOUP

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PAN-ASIAN NOODLE SOUP

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It might be hard to believe, oh children of today, but there was a time in California and many other modern places with electricity and running water (bottled water was not yet invented) and telephones (landlines only) where your choice of Asian food was Chinese or Chinese, and by that I mean chow mein or chop suey, which the American diner poured soy sauce over lavishly. (I am loathe to admit we called soy sauce “bug juice.”) If you were really living it up you could also get Chinese BBQ ribs and egg foo yong and sweet and sour pork. A few very avant garde restaurants offered rumaki, though I have never known anyone to actually order it. I was a picky child so when we went to one of the three or four Chinese restaurants in town, I stayed safe with a hot roast beef sandwich.

Then sometime in the late 1960s or early 70s woks became the rage. It was impressed upon we aspiring Chinese chefs that the wok absolutely had to be made of carbon steel, seasoned properly with heat and oil, and used frequently in order to keep up the seasoning else it would rust. It was also absolutely essential that one had the right shovel (a shovel-shaped spatula with a long handle) and that the wok had to have a round bottom, or it was not authentic and your food would likewise be not authentic. This was at a time when electric stoves were pretty standard in most kitchens; round bottomed woks rolled and tilted dangerously on the flat burner.

Also, we had to learn to chop vegetables properly, preferably with a Chinese cleaver, or they wouldn’t cook correctly.  Something about cut-half-roll-cut on an angle. (See above about not authentic.)

We bought Chinese cookbooks that listed a new-to-us array of ingredients that were likewise absolutely essential to Chinese cooking, almost none of which were available in circa-1970 Safeway and Albertsons.  The standard supermarket soy sauce was La Choy (who had a catchy television commercial with a jingle, “La Choy makes Chinese food *swing* American!”). Bamboo shoots and water chestnuts were available in cans; people bought one of each and displayed them to show off their culinary chops. (You didn’t have to actually use them; just owning the cans was enough.) Tofu was  starting to become available but viewed with suspicion.  Garlic was available but ginger less so. It took a drive to a larger city to find sesame oil, five-spice powder,  oyster sauce, rice sticks, and bok choy. (This was before the internet.)

Even around 1980 I remember being served stir-fry dishes in Chinese restaurants that included crinkle-cut frozen French fries and gherkins.  It was indeed a strange time in America.

It took Americans a long time to relax and learn to make Chinese food; from there we segued into Thai and Korean and Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian (which, I have been assured by a Lao woman, are pretty similar), Japanese and Asian fusion. I don’t know just when the tide turned and we started appreciating and making decent Asian dishes, but even small-town grocers stock hoisin sauce and cilantro now.

We have a copy of Lucky Peach Presents 101 Asian Recipes which has a less structured approach to cooking and a what-the-hell punky approach to authenticity, while not ceding anything to white bread America. It’s been helpful in loosening up and having fun while making really good tasting Asian food. I used to have a carbon steel wok but I have no idea where it is now. I use either a cast iron frying pan or a nonstick Ikea flat-bottomed wok.

I bet you thought I would never get around to the recipe, right? This started as something else and became this. But it could become something else yet again if the cook made it so. Lots of possible variations. Much of it can be made ahead. Don’t be discouraged by the long list of ingredients – it’s really simple to make.

Note: This is clearly full of meat, but I suspect a vegetarian version could be made with the spices and some miso.

ASIAN NOODLE SOUP 

The Meat Part:

  • 3 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt, beef chuck roast, beef 7-bone roast, country-style spare ribs, chicken thighs, or a whole chicken

Broth:

  • 1 head garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 fat slice onion
  • 2 quarts water (include some low-sodium broth if it’s on hand)
  • 1/2 cup low-salt soy sauce or tamari (I use Aloha soy sauce and/or San-J Tamari, both low-salt)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (I use Squid brand, available in Asian markets)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, Demarara sugar, turbinado sugar, or golden brown sugar (optional)
  • 2/3 cup Shaoxing rice wine, mirin, sake, or sherry (a generous splash of Madeira would not go amiss here as well)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, about 3″ long
  • 2 star anise
  • t teaspoon whole cloves
  • 4-5 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds or anise seeds
  • 10-12 whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1″ piece of ginger root, sliced
  • 1-4 dried hot peppers (optional)

Greens:

  • 1 large bunch collards, kale, spinach, or other sturdy greens, hard stems removed, greens sliced thinly (roll them up like a cigar and then slice across)

Optional Vegetables:

  • shredded vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, daikon – about 1/4 cup of each
  • sliced mushrooms – 2 or more, depending on your fondness for mushrooms
  • snow peas – 1/4 pound ought to do it
  • green beans, cut into 2″ lengths -like the snow peas, about 1/4 pound

Noodles:

  • 8 – 16 ounces rice noodles, glass noodles, rice sticks, or other noodles, cooked according to package directions (I used the rice vermicelli pictured above, 14 ounces)

Optional Garnishes:

  • chopped green onions
  • chopped cilantro
  • chili-garlic sauce (Huy Fong Foods makes one version, much more garlicky than Sriracha) or sambal oelek
  • finely shredded cabbage
  • a raw egg yolk for the hardcore

Directions:

Brown the meat in a little oil, flipping as necessary to brown all sides.  When the meat is almost brown enough, add the onion slice and let it get good and brown on both sides. Toss in the garlic to lightly brown for a few minutes, then the spices to lightly bloom in the oil.

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Clockwise from top: star anise, whole cloves, cardamom pods, coriander seeds, whole peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds in the center

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Pour in all liquid ingredients and scrape up any lovely browned bits from the bottom, bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover.

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Let simmer until meat is falling-apart tender – about 1 1/2 hours for chicken thighs, 2 hours for country-style ribs or a whole chicken, 3 hours for pork butt, pork shoulder, or beef chuck/7-bone roast. Remove meat from pot and let cool, then remove bones/skin/fat and shred meat. (This can all be done ahead and put in the refrigerator for another day.)

Taste the broth and adjust seasoning – I like this on the sweet side so I usually add more brown sugar, but this is subjective. (My husband doesn’t like it sweet so for him I  keep it at 1/4 cup. Or skip the sugar altogether.) Strain broth and discard solids. Skim fat from broth (this is easier if made ahead and chilled). Reheat broth, add the thinly sliced greens, and cook until tender – could be 20 to 40 minutes for collards, 20 minutes for kale, almost instantly for spinach. When greens are almost tender, add any other vegetables.

Cook noodles separately, then add to broth with greens along with shredded meat. When soup is heated through, serve with optional garnishes.

Makes a lot.

 

THAI DUMPLING SOUP

THAI DUMPLING SOUP

Just a few days before Christmas and I am feeling like someone who has been living pretty high on the hog, I’m telling you. It’s been cold and rainy so we’ve been having large breakfasts – French toast, hash browns, ham scrambles, pancakes, etc. Not all at once, mind you, but still, a lot of breakfast every day.  While there are lots of fresh vegetables and fruit in the house, there’s also a lot of cheese and sour cream and cookies and pie. We’ve gone out to eat a few times, which is luxurious and delicious but also accumulative.

There’s been a bag of Trader Joe’s Pork Potstickers in the freezer just waiting for an opportunity to be used.  I thought a nice filling soup would be good on a rainy, chilly night, and not quite as indulgent as what we’ve been eating.

To make this vegan or gluten free, substitute frozen dumplings that are labeled as such, or skip the dumplings and substitute silken tofu (added with the spinach at the end of cooking just long enough to heat through). Also check the labels on Thai red curry paste, or make your own (there are many such recipes on the internet). I used Thai Kitchen brand.

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This can be prepped ahead for fast assembly. Cut up the vegetables to be sauteed and keep them in the refrigerator, wrapped up. Also prepare the spinach and herbs, and keep them the same way.  The veggies will stay good in the fridge a couple of days. When you’re ready to make the soup, the majority of the work is already done.

THAI DUMPLING SOUP

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (red or green, or some of each) or a pepper with some heat like an Anaheim or Pasilla, minced
  • 1 sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
  • 1 package  (about 12 ounces to 1 pound) frozen Asian-style dumplings or potstickers
  • 1 small bunch spinach, washed and torn into small pieces (substitute other tender greens like beet greens, bok choy, Swiss chard, etc.)
  • low-sodium soy sauce, tamari, or fish sauce (optional)
  • chili-garlic sauce, sambal oelek, or Sriracha (optional)
  • 3 or 4 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup washed cilantro leaves (optional)
  • a few fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • the juice of one fresh lime

Combine oil, garlic, onion, peppers, and sweet potato in four-quart kettle over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften a bit, 5 minutes or so. Stir in red curry paste and cook another few minutes. Then add the broth, water, and coconut milk and heat, stirring occasionally.

When the sweet potatoes are almost tender, add the frozen dumplings. Stir to separate them if necessary, then let them cook another ten minutes. Don’t let it boil – the dumplings will fall apart. Taste the broth and season with chile-garlic paste, soy, tamari, or fish sauce if needed.

When the dumplings are done, add the spinach, green onions, and herbs; simmer until spinach is just cooked (maybe another 1 – 2 minutes). Squeeze in the juice from half a fresh lime and taste; add the juice from the other half if the soup needs it for a nice balance.

Serve in large bowls with additional garnishes of sliced lime, green onions, cilantro, basil, soy or fish sauce, and chile-garlic paste.

 

 

 

 

HOT AND SOUR SOUP AT HOME

The best hot and sour soup I ever had was, weirdly, in Paris. It’s been years since I had loads of time to wander around the side streets so things may be different now, but in the early 80s it was very common to see certain restaurants place a large cutout of Mickey Mouse or Foghorn Leghorn or some similar figure out on the sidewalk with their menu taped on the front. I thought it was pretty odd at the time but I have come to think  of it as charmingly French. Anyway, the hot and sour soup was fantastic and blisteringly hot; I have no idea now where the restaurant was other than somewhere on the Left Bank in the Luxembourg arrondissement or nearby. It’s probably long gone.

I usually get won ton soup in Chinese restaurants now because that’s what my husband likes, but if I am on my own, it’s hot and sour all the way. I found a recipe that I adapted a little bit and discovered it’s easy to make at home.  I found this at the Grocery Outlet the other day and it’s great in hot and sour. It’s already fairly sour.

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But regular chicken or vegetable stock works fine. Homemade broth would rock this soup.

I also used some spicy pork sausage so I didn’t need to use as much Sriracha, but again, this is optional.

HOT AND SOUR SOUP

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger root
  • 4 chopped green onions (scallions)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or Tom Yum soup base
  • 1 pound firm tofu, cut in 1/2″ cubes
  • 5 thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce)
  • Sriracha to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • rice vinegar to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Heat the oil in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the garlic, ginger, and green onions.006

Then add the ground pork. Break it up with a fork as best you can, and cook & stir about 1 minute. Don’t try to cook the pork thoroughly just yet; it will finish cooking as the broth simmers.

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Add the broth, sugar, tofu, mushrooms, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat quickly, simmer and taste. If you used the Tom Yum soup base, you won’t need to add much rice vinegar. If you used regular broth, add up to 2/3 cup rice vinegar. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and 1/2 to 1 tablespoons Sriracha. Keep tasting as you add until soup is just right for you.

Pour the beaten eggs into the soup and whisk until they form strands.

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Garnish with sesame oil, chopped cilantro, and chopped green onions. A squeeze of lime would be nice if you want an extra flavor and tartness.

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For a vegetarian or vegan version, use vegetable broth and omit the meat and eggs. Use soy sauce instead of fish sauce. Rehydrate 1 ounce wood ear mushrooms and slice thinly; add with the other mushrooms.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator. The soup may look a little different after being chilled but it will reheat and taste fine.

CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES

We were in San Francisco’s Chinatown a couple of weeks ago and made our usual stop at Eastern Bakery for a bag of almond cookies. I’ve bought other sweets there over numerous visits and I have a hard time wrapping my tastebuds around them, but then Chinese cuisine isn’t really known for its desserts.

But I have a wonderful cookbook, California the Beautiful Cookbook by John Phillip Carroll, which includes a recipe for almond cookies. I remember my mother making them years ago and I thought they were pretty good. Not exactly like the ones Eastern Bakery turns out which are drier and crumblier, these are more like a smooth shortbread. They’re easy to make.

The original recipe asks you to top the cookies with sesame seeds before baking. I don’t see sesame seeds as being necessary on an almond cookie, but that’s subject to taste.

CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
whole almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Add egg yolk and almond extract and cream again, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
Toss together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add flour to butter mixture and beat in until all is combined and there are no flour pockets.
Roll out tablespoons of dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 1/2″ apart. Give each cookie a mash with your fist to flatten it slightly, then top with a whole almond.

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Bake at 375 about 15 minutes until edges are browned.

If you feel sesame seeds would be a good addition, beat the leftover egg white with a tablespoon of water. Brush each flattened cookie with the egg white, then dip in sesame seeds and top with almond; bake as directed.

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SPICY SZECHUAN STIR-FRY SAUCE FOR VEGETABLES

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A couple of months ago we were at our favorite Chinese restaurant eating broccoli in hot garlic sauce, when it occurred to me that I could probably figure out how to make it at home. I did.

In this post about Grandmother’s Chinese Country-Style Pork Ribs  (which is by FAR the most popular post on this blog!) I wrote about soy sauce, mirin, star anise, oyster sauce, and sake.  In this recipe I use Thai sweet chili sauce, which might not be a familiar ingredient to everyone. There are numerous brands available; you can buy it in an Asian market or a supermarket. Trader Joe’s has their own version. It is not Sriracha or chili paste. It is a sweet-spicy goopy sauce that you can dip just about anything into,  or use as an ingredient in other recipes (like this one). I buy a big bottle at an Asian market and store in the refrigerator.

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SPICY SZECHUAN STIR-FRY SAUCE

  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 3 cloves (or more) minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low-salt soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 of a star anise
  • hot pepper flakes to taste (I use 1 teaspoon, but suit yourself)

Combine all ingredients. Add to cooked, drained vegetables and stir-fry over medium heat until sauce thickens. This is enough sauce for about 1 pound of vegetables.

I use this on Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and/or cauliflower, but it would be great on green beans, asparagus, carrots, celery, pearl onions, zucchini,  mixed vegetables with tofu, or whatever else needs spicing up.

GRANDMOTHER’S CHINESE COUNTRY-STYLE PORK RIBS

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My apologies, if needed, go to Andrew Zimmern. You know him, the guy who will eat anything; if he doesn’t like it, you just know it’s got to be foul.  Anyway, a few months back I made his recipe for Grandmother’s Chinese Chicken Wings, and boy howdy were they good. I did have to tweak the directions a little in order to get them falling-apart tender, but other than that, the recipe is great. The original recipe is here at the Food Network website.

Last night we needed dinner that was easy and filling. My husband had been digging post holes; I had been mowing about 1/2 acre. We were both tired but didn’t want to get take-out. We already had leftover steamed rice and salad makings in the refrigerator – what to go with?  I dug around in the freezer and came up with a package of country-style spare ribs.

Not everyone is familiar with country-style pork ribs, or maybe they’re known by other names in other areas.

009   Country-style ribs are cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin, which is a less exercised part of the pig – therefore, they are more tender than spareribs.  They are also much meatier and indeed, look like thick-cut narrow steaks. They lend themselves well to braising and are really delicious prepared with Asian seasonings. I thought with a little tweaking, Andrew Zimmern’s chicken wing sauce would be good on the ribs. I was right.

A few words on ingredients:

Mirin is an alcohol-based liquid made from rice and is used in Japanese cooking. At one time it was drunk like sake, but now is considered a condiment. Salt is often added to avoid the alcohol tax. It is available in Asian markets.

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Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from rice; there are six zillion varieties available, but unless you live near a large Asian community you may be  able to only find a few.  It is thought of as rice wine,  but it is actually brewed like beer (in winemaking, alcohol is produced via the fermentation of naturally-occurring sugars; in sake and beer, the sugar has to be converted from starch before it can ferment). Available in liquor stores and well-stocked supermarkets.

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Oyster sauce is – duh – made from oysters. It is a thick brown salty sauce that has the smell and flavor of oysters. Don’t run off screaming. When cooked in a dish like this, it becomes much less assertive and if you didn’t know it was an ingredient,  you wouldn’t be able to tell. Since it does contain oyster extractives, it is not suitable for people with shellfish allergies. Available in Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

006Star anise is the fruit of an evergreen tree from Asia; it is harvested green and dried. It has a strong anise scent and flavor; anise seed could be substituted for it.  Interesting note: star anise is the source of one of the main ingredients in the prescription drug Tamiflu. Available in Asian markets, spice shops, and well-stocked supermarkets, and possibly health food stores.

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About soy sauce:

I use either Shoyu Low-Salt Soy Sauce or San-J Low-Salt  Tamari.  Soy sauce contains wheat; tamari does not (but check the label). For God’s sake, throw out the La Choy and get a decent brand of soy sauce. Asian markets have a good selection; at the very least, get some Kikkoman.

Grandmother’s Chinese Country-Style Pork Ribs

  • 4 to 6 country-style pork ribs, about 1/2 to 3/4 pound each
  • 1/3 cup sake
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 6 large thin slices fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cloves star anise
  • 1 dried hot chile or 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (pizza parlor type) – more if you want
  • 1 cinnamon stick (do not substitute powdered cinnamon)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, sliced

Garnish:

  • Green onions/scallions
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • Sesame seeds

Heat heavy skillet or Dutch oven. When hot, add a little vegetable oil and then the ribs. Do not crowd the pan! If the meat is crowded in the pan, the meat will not brown and instead will steam. Do this in batches if necessary, removing meat as it is browned.

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While ribs are cooking, combine all the sauce ingredients. Stir to dissolve brown sugar.

When all the ribs are browned, return all to the pan. Pour in the sauce and 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, leaving lid slightly ajar so the sauce can begin to reduce.

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Either cook on lowest heat on the stove, or put in a 300 degree oven and bake slowly until ribs are tender, 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. Edit: a friend asked if this could be made by browning the ribs in an electric skillet, then braising in a crock pot. I don’t see why not. You’d have to reduce the sauce later in the skillet, but I think it would work well.

Prepare the garnishes: thinly slice three or four green onions (scallions). Chop 1/2 cup cilantro (coriander). Lightly toast 2 tablespoons sesame seeds by putting them in a small dry skillet over medium heat and shaking the skillet frequently until they begin to pop and turn brown. Remove them from the pan as soon as they are toasted.

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When the ribs are tender, remove them to a serving dish and keep warm. Put the pot containing the sauce on the stove and turn to high heat, boiling the sauce to reduce it.  When the sauce has thickened, pour it over the ribs and then add the garnishes.

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This sauce is very intense and rich, so accompaniments should be simple: steamed rice (or possibly mashed potatoes or polenta), steamed or grilled asparagus, sliced fruit like oranges or grapefruit, sauteed chard or spinach. Serve this with a ballsy red wine like a Zinfandel or Sangiovese – a big fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon would work too.

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