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Chinese Recipes
Pi Gwat or Chinese Style Ribs
Chinese style pork ribs are a group of dishes known collectively as Pi Gwat. These are not dishes you would know of in the west unless you have visited China.

Spare Ribs as known in the west are detailed separately, and you can find an excellent recipe here.

For these dishes pork ribs are generally chopped into cubes about 1 or 2 inches square. We will now detail a few of the many popular recipes:

Basic Preparation for all Dishes

1. Your Chinese meat provender will chop these to the required size for you, or you can buy whole ribs and do it yourself. Wash the pork meat and set aside in a bowl.
 
2. Dice a 3-inch chunk of peeled fresh, wet ginger into wafer thin strips. Hold in your fist over the meat and squeeze as much juice out of the ginger as possible. Discard the remnant, mixing the meat so it all gets covered in the ginger juice..

3. Smash 3 or 6 Chinese garlic and remove the husks. Roughly chop the garlic and add to the meat, stirring well in. If using western garlic, then add half to one whole wardrobe (Bulb).

4. Cover with a mesh basket or cloth in order to keep insects away. Marinade for at least 30 minutes, and longer is better.
Image: Marinading Chinese Spare Ribs or Pi Gwat - Click to Enlarge
   
Recipe 1 - Steamed Pi Gwat

This is very simple, and the one served at most Chinese Tea Houses:

Take the whole marinade and place into a wok-steamer. For a portion size, place some marinated meat on a saucer sized dish and add to a bamboo or wok steamer.

A Wok steamer is simply a wok with a tripod spacer in it. Water is added to below the spacer height, and food added. Cover and steam.

A bamboo steamer is a Bain Marie type of affair consisting of large circular bamboo dividers that are placed on top of the wok, and can be stacked quite high. The topmost should have a bamboo lid.

Image: Yeurm Cha
For individual portions, steam for 10 minutes until cooked, or leave for longer = no problem. If cooking all the meat, then increase cooking time to between 20 and 30 minutes - it depends how much you are cooking really.

This is a standard 'Dim Sum' dish, that you could think of as an entree (starter). Whilst you can present to table in small, low sided bowls; this should properly be served in individual sized bamboo containers - see picture right above.
Recipe 2 - Pi Gwat Garlic Crunch

For this dish only: marinade as above, but ensure the garlic is diced into very small grains. You should also buy ribs that are very thin, and chop them into longer sections of about 3 inches.

Prepare some flour by sieving twice to remove lumps and distribute the gluten. You can add this to a small dish for ease of use, and add complementary spices. Westerners will like both a little salt and pepper added to the flour and mixed well in. You can vary by adding a little: chilli powder or curry powder to the flour - the latter being totally fantastic!

To cook, stir the marinade well ensuring garlic sticks to every piece of meat. Dust with the flour mixture and put into a hot wok with a full base of oil. Turn after 30 seconds, and keep tossing until the surface sets. Reduce the heat immediately and simmer for a few minutes. Turn when light yellow, and repeat. Remove from the heat and place on a rack to finish cooking internally. Heat the oil after a couple of minutes, and flash-fry for 30 seconds turning once, or until lightest golden brown. Serve immediately.

There is great skill in perfecting this dish, as getting the frying wrong you either end up with bloody meat, burnt batter, and probably both! Use too little heat initially, and you will have a wok full of ribs, and separate lumps of burnt flour. This is why we suggest at least one resting period, so the meat continues cooking, whilst the outside does not. However, once you get the hang of cooking this the results are totally delicious.

Recipe 3 - Pi Gwat in Blackbean Sauce

a. Add a little oil to your wok and flash-fry the whole marinade so as to seal the meat. This should take 30 seconds or so, as you do not want to burn the garlic. Add a couple of tablespoons of Blackbean sauce from a pre-mixed jar, and turn down the heat to a simmer.

b. Once bubbling away nicely, you may want to add a little water or vegetable stock to prevent it becoming too thick = it will start to stick and burn if you are not careful..

c. Simmer for at least 10 minutes stirring occasionally and adding extra water as required.

d. Check the taste, which should be great. You can add a little salt and pepper if you prefer, but this dish doesn't really need either.

e. Transfer to a serving dish and present to table.

f. For a flourish; add a few halved cherry tomatoes as a rose to the centre and top with chopped fresh parsley or coriander leaves.

Recipe 4 - Pi Gwat in Plum Sauce

a. Add a little oil to your wok and flash-fry the whole marinade so as to seal the meat. This should take 30 seconds or so, as you do not want to burn the garlic. Add a tablespoons of Plum sauce from a pre-mixed jar, and turn down the heat to a simmer.

b. Once bubbling away nicely, you may want to add a little water or vegetable stock to prevent it becoming too thick = it will start to stick and burn if you are not careful..

c. Simmer for at least 10 minutes stirring occasionally and adding extra water as required.

d. Check the taste, which should be great. You can add a little salt and pepper if you prefer, but this dish doesn't really need either.

e. Transfer the meat to a serving dish and add the plum sauce and juices from the wok by pouring over the ribs, and present to table.

f. For a more western look, use longer chops of spare ribs.

g. To make a sweeter dish, marinade in Plum Sauce instead of the ginger and garlic, turning occasionally. Add to the wok with another tablespoon of Plum Sauce, and be ready to add a little water to stop sticking and burning.
The following recipes all link together:

Recipe 5 - Pi Gwat in Gravy
This recipe is prepared just as above, except we will not be adding blackbean sauce. Instead as soon as the meat is sealed we turn down the heat and sprinkle it with chicken bouillon granules. Stir for 20 seconds and add water or stock, returning the mix to a simmer.

Stir well over the next couple of minutes, adding more water or stock as necessary. Simmer for 15 minute, stirring occasionally. Develop the natural gravy over the last 5 minutes, adjusting the thickness to your liking = add water to make it thinner, simmer to make it thicker.

Once you are happy and getting ready to dish-up, taste the sauce. Like me you will probably think it needs a little ground black pepper and some salt. Adding salt will fix the final flavour, and being added so late in the cooking you should use refined or table salt. Kosher or rock salt does not have enough time to mix properly, but if added earlier destroys the subtle flavour's we are seeking. If you must use kosher salt, then mix this into a brine before adding.

Plate for table and garnish as you prefer.

Recipe 6 - Pi Gwat Wok Pot

This is basically the same as above, only this time we are adding vegetables to the mix. We pick this up again once the meat is sealed. Alternatively you could use pork meat, or any other meat for that matter.

We add 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon granules as stir well in. Add to this enough water to cover the meat and return to a simmer. This time we add more water or stock if you prefer, because we are cooking vegetables also.

You can add any vegetables you like, but keep them to a smaller size so they will cook quicker. We would recommend: Potatoes, Celery, onions, peeled and sliced water chestnuts, Chinese whole 'long stick' or 'straw' mushrooms; adding capsicum peppers a few minutes before serving - so they are still a little crisp.

Chinese usually add carrots, which are fine except I find they are usually a little too sweet. You can add anything else you fancy.

Add a teaspoon of ground black pepper once the ingredients are settled, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste, and it should be quite delicious by now, but needs a little salt perhaps? Again I would add refined salt, as we are serving in about five minutes, or at least as soon as all the vegetables are properly cooked. Stir well over the final few minutes of cooking, and adjust the gravy to your preference.

Plate and serve to table with a little garnish.

Recipe 7 - Hot Pot

As an alternative you can serve this as a casserole in a tall Chinese soup pot. The method is basically the same again, except this time we are going to put the ingredients into the large soup pot. You can still seal the meat, or add the whole marinade to the crock.

This time I would add the carrots, both types of mushroom, and chop all the vegetables a little larger. However I would not add the chicken bouillon to this dish. Add the black pepper, salt, and capsicums as well, so all our remaining ingredients are in the pot. Top up with water (allow 1-inch for expansion) and set to bubble away for at least one hour, and preferably 90 minutes.

Check every 10 minutes or so, adding more water as required, and also giving it a quick and gentle stir.

This dish is quite flexible re cooking time, so it allows a few minutes for other dishes to be prepared, and dinner guests to arrive.

Present to table in its crock-pot, and serve each guest a bowl of 'soup', perhaps with the odd morsel in it.

Summary

You are perhaps by now realising what delicate and subtle differences make to Cantonese dishes. Flavour's can be altered by changing the cooking method, using basically the same ingredients.
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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