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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Braised Taiwanese Ribs with Wheat Nooles, Ginger Scallion Sauce and Grilled Soy Sauce Chicken

I was inspired for this meal by a picture of a guy eating noodles at David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar. It's amazing when even an image of someone else eating can inspire you to cook! Well, that's me. I'm inspired by many things, including pictures of people hogging down.

Anyway, I won't lie...the Ginger Scallion Sauce you see here is an exact replication of David's recipe in his book, Momofuku. Granted, I don't think the consistency in mine looks like the consistency in the images in David's book. But, maybe I'm wrong. And, to be honest, I was disappointed. It lacked depth, it lacked punch, and it lacked complexity. I can cook, trust me, so it wasn't my skills. And, I rarely, rarely follow a recipe point-by-point. This one time I did, and I was not happy with the outcome.

I don't know David, but I certainly hope he's not one of those chefs who leaves out key ingredients in his cookbooks simply so that people can't replicate his work. That's just plain stupid. The day a home chef puts a professional chef out of business simply because the home chef uses the exact same recipe at home is probably the same day an ostrich will fly. If you're that good, your skills will be greater than the sum of your ingredients.

It actually reminds me of why I don't follow cookbooks in the first place. Years ago, I bought a few Williams-Sonoma cookbooks, because the pictures looked amazing and made me think the recipes would be as well. They were not. They sucked...horribly. I think Williams-Sonoma saw an opportunity for product variation based on brand recognition and went for it. In my mind, an utter and complete FAIL! You want the best cookbook? Ask your grandma to write down her recipes. Start with that. Find someone who really cooks and will be honest with you. Have them write down their recipes, and that will be the best cookbook you will find. Why? Because it's real.

Anyway, that was a l o n g departure from the recipes here. And, you can bet that I won't leave out ingredients on purpose. Because my memory fails? Yes. But intentional - never!!

Braised Taiwanese Ribs:

This is inspired by the Taiwanese beef noodle soup found in many Taiwanese restaurants in the US, like Sim Ba La, and obviously in Taiwan. I adapted the flavors from that beef soup into a braise mix for pork ribs.

1-2 pounds meaty pork ribs cut into 2 inch sections (have your butcher do this, unless you want to cut through bone). Season with salt and pepper.

In a dutch oven, add some vegetable oil and brown the ribs on all sides, about 4 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. Put those into a bowl nearby.

In the pot, add 1 chopped red onion. Fry for 2 minutes, then add 6 garlic cloves, pressed. Fry for 30 seconds. Add a couple star anise with seeds, continue frying. Add 4 chopped vine-ripe tomatoes. Stir. Add back in ribs and accumulated juices. Add 1 can of beef broth. I use Swanson's. Add 1/2 cup of soy sauce. Mix well.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Let this braise for 2-3 hours. You can stir occasionally, but keep in mind that the longer the ribs braise, the more they will fall from the bone. You want to keep them intact, so don't stir too much.

When they're braised enough, they're done. I removed them with tongs and set them on my noodles. They'd be good with rice too. You can also use the braising liquid to spoon over.

Wheat Noodles:

For this, just pick a good noodle and cook it according to instructions. Toss with a tiny amount of sesame or vegetable oil. Set aside for use.

Ginger Scallion Sauce:

Chop ginger and scallions and add vegetable oil. Follow David's recipe, and add some of your own thoughts. For me, I'd use less oil, some salt, a red chili, and some sugar.

Grilled Soy Sauce Chicken:

Marinate your chicken in 1/2 soy sauce and juice of 2 lemons, plus some sesame oil and a splash of sake. A pinch of ginger, salt, pepper, and garlic. This is an intense marinade, so I like to brighten the flavor on the grill by squeezing lemon on the chicken while it cooks. Probably need 15 minutes of cooking time.


~ Brock

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