Twice-Cooked Spare Ribs with Soy and Honey Reduction

Discussion in 'Geek Recipes' started by BlueRaven, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. BlueRaven

    BlueRaven Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    Stuck in Sydney traffic
    I've been meaning to try a dish involving pork belly for quite a while, and the other day while at the supermarket I saw some spare ribs on special.
    So I bought first and asked questions later!

    A bit of googling brought up plenty of recipes involving "oven cook slow/oven cook high" but I really wanted to do an asian-style braise, finished in the oven.
    I finally found a suitable recipe and modified it a bit based on what I had in the cupboard/fridge, and some tips from a friend who does killer braised spare ribs.

    A word of warning: this will take a minimum of 24 hours to prepare, is a bit fiddly, is VERY rich, and is quite high in fat and salt.
    So it's not a dish for the faint-of-heart, the impatient, or the excessively health conscious.
    But man, is it tasty!


    Click to view full size!

    - ~1kg pork spare ribs or pork belly, bone in
    - 1 bunch Dutch Carrots, to serve
    - 1 bunch Buk Choy, to serve

    Spice Rub
    - 1 Tbsp good Salt
    - 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
    - 1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
    - 1 Tsp Chinese Five Spice
    - 1 Tsp Ground Cumin

    Braising Liquid
    - ~1 Lt Chicken Stock (enough to just cover the meat)
    - 1 1/2 Cups Apple Juice
    - 2/3 Cup Shao Xsing (Chinese Cooking Wine - use 1/2 cup dry sherry if unavailable)
    - 1/2 cup Light Soy Sauce
    - 1/2 cup Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)
    - 4 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
    - Good-sized knob of fresh Ginger, sliced
    - 2-3 Birdseye Chilli, halved and with seeds/pith removed (leave in if you want it spicy!)
    - 4 whole Star Anise
    - A few sprigs of fresh Coriander OR ~2 Tsp Coriander Seed
    - 8-10 Cardomom Pods
    - 1 Tsp Lime zest

    - 2 cups reserved Braising Liquid
    - 1/2 cup Honey

    - 2" to 3" piece of Leek, julienned
    - 3 Tbsp Peanut Oil or Light Olive Oil
    - Salt and Pepper


    1. Mix the spice rub. Make sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar to get a nice even consistency.

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    Rub down the pork, cover and return to the fridge for 3-4 hours.

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    2. Toast the Coriander Seed/Cardomom on a baking sheet in a slow (~120C) oven for a few minutes then grind with a mortar & pestle. Place in your stockpot/clow cooker.
    Remove the pork from the fridge, rinse off the spice rub and add the pork to the stockpot/slow cooker, along with the rest of the Braising Liquid ingredients.
    Braise over low heat for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally, until a skewer can be pushed through the meat with little or no resistance.
    I did mine in the slow cooker for two hours on the 'High' setting to get things going, then reduced to the 'Low' setting for another four hours.

    Click to view full size!

    3. Remove the pork from the liquid. Strain ~2 cups of the braising liquid through a piece of muslin or a clean and well-rinsed Chux cloth.
    Place in the fridge in a plastic container, to let the fat solidify and rise to the top.

    Carefully pull/cut the bones out of the pork. They should come out fairly easily from the tender meat.

    4. Now you need to wrap up the pork in greaseproof paper and compress it under a decent weight overnight in the fridge.
    I placed my little spare rib packet into a shallow oven tray with a plastic container lid on top, weighed down with some jars etc. I had in the fridge.

    After resting overnight:

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    5. Skim the fat from the stock and place on a medium-high heat until liquified.
    Add the honey and simmer for 30-40 minutes until reduced to a nice thick consistency. Preheat oven to 220C while this is happening.
    Keep an eye on the sauce, once it has lost most of its water content it will get thick and sticky very fast... just stir in a bit of water to thin it out if you overdo it.

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    6. Throw the pork into the oven on the top rack, to brown and crisp up the fat/skin.
    I cooked mine at 220 for about 30 minutes and used the top browning element for the last five minutes or so to finish it off.
    You may need to increase the temp to 230 and/or increase the cooking time if you're doing a whole piece of belly.

    7. Trim and clean the carrots and place in simmering water to par-cook. Don't overcook, let them keep a little bit of crunch for texture.

    Quarter and wash the Buk Choy, being sure to remove any dirt from down near the root.

    8. To prepare the garnish, cut a 2"-3" piece of leek in half lengthwise. Preheat the oil in a frying pan.
    Peel off about 4 or 5 layers of the leek at a time, press flat on a cutting board, then slice into thin strips.
    Shallow fry in batches until golden brown (keep a close eye on it, once it starts to brown it will burn very quickly).
    Use a deep fryer for more consistent results if you have one and can be bothered!
    Drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

    Click to view full size!

    9. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest a bit while you plate up. Blanch the Buk Choy in the carrot water for a minute or two, drain.
    Plate up Carrots, Buk Choy and Pork. Drizzle with the reduction and add a bird's nest of leek to garnish.

    Girlfriend's Portion:

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    My Portion (LOL... eyes bigger than my stomach!):

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    10. Share and Enjoy!

    NOTES: Will definitely be trying this again with a whole piece of belly.
    The sauce is intense, delicious but very sweet and strongly-flavoured so you don't need much... I may have gone a little overboard.
    The pork is already very tender so it doesn't need to be drowned in the sauce. I might dilute it a bit with water before reducing next time, or use a bit less honey.
    The leek is my favourite garnish ever (shamelessly stolen from a restaurant where I worked for a while), and should be used on EVERYTHING. :D
    Needs a bit more spice, probably should have left the seeds in the chillis but I didn't want them to add too much heat to the reduction.
    Adding some ground chilli to the spice rub might be a good way around this.

    Comments and feedback welcome, thanks for reading!

    EDIT: When I cooked this a second time using a whole piece of pork belly I added a few missing ingredients from the original recipe (as per my next post in this thread).
    Recipe updated as they did add some extra aroma and flavour. Also adjusted the braising liquid ingredients a little.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  2. marc2020

    marc2020 Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Sounds like a good recipe! I love some good old pork belly in any shape or form. Just out of curiosity what does compressing it do?
  3. Stooge007

    Stooge007 Member

    Aug 22, 2006
    The Shire, Sydney
    i think it's for presentation purposes, so it's all even height and shape

    i could be way off here though
  4. OP

    BlueRaven Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    Stuck in Sydney traffic
    Thanks for the feedback. :)

    Pressing the pork does a couple of things:

    - Improves presentation like Stooge mentioned (especially if you're cooking unevenly-sized spare ribs rather than whole belly)

    - Compresses the layers of meat and fat together which helps to stop it drying out while finishing in the oven

    - Helps to render more fat out of the meat. There was a fair bit of solidified fat on the bottom of the ribs and the baking paper after pressing overnight, which ran off into the pan while finishing instead of coating/staying in the meat.
    Let's face it, this dish will never get the Heart Foundation's tick of approval, but there's so much flavour in the pork belly that it can't hurt to try and get rid of some of the excess fat. ;)

    - I think it also helps to get a good crackle on the skin. I've seen a couple of whole belly recipes by Pro chefs where it was compressed down to about an inch thick, and the final result looked to be wonderfully crisp and juicy (more so than mine... the crackling was good, but not the best I've had). I'm really keen to cook a whole piece next time to try and get this result.

    EDIT: For reference, here is the original recipe that I modified.
    She used a few extra ingredients in the braising liquid which I didn't have, but to be honest we didn't really seem to miss them... still plenty of delicious flavours in the final product.
    The cardomom would be a nice addition, as would replacing the fresh coriander with coriander seed. Also needs a bit more heat as I noted in my comments.

    The site is kind of crappy and broken in places, but there's a few good recipes there.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013

    RETARD Member

    Aug 9, 2001
    i love spare ribs
    and by the looks of your recipe i would smash these down with out much effort
    Nice job BlueRaven :thumbup:

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