Until I read this month’s cookbook I never realized that “sweet and sour” should be “sweet-and-sour.” It seems so obvious now but in my ignorance I never noticed. It’s like the arrow in the FedEx logo. Once you see it you can’t unsee it. I will never again trust the weak word “and” to convey any manner of relationship between two words. Thank you cookbook!
Wuxi is a city in the Jaingsu province of China, off to the middle right but not quite on the sea. It was founded by two brothers, Taibo-and-Zhongyong; princes on the run apparently. According to local tales, it was originally called Youxi meaning in the Wu dialect “lots of tin,” because of the great canals or something. The name was later changes to Wuxi, meaning “no more tin,” to reflect the changing economics of the region. Like most things about the past that are interestingly funny, buttinsky historians are begining to cast doubt on the tin based genesis story. Wuxi is supposed to be known the world around for its ribs, although as this link to an official looking chamber of commerce seeming site demonstrates, there are 2,790 views of the forum page “KFC/McDonald’s/indian restaurant in wuxi?” That’s a full 1,979 views more than the closest competitor, “restaurants in Jiangyin.” Doesn’t say much for the local dining scene.
The ribs are marinated for 20 minutes in chopped garlic, yeallow bean sauce,-and-rice wine. In the introduction she says “The traditional way of preparing the ribs is to braise them slowly in stock for an hour, then add sauce.” But this is not Ching’s Everyday Takes an Hour Chinese. The recipes in this book are advertised as “quick,”-and-so we heat oil in a wok/skillet-and-cook for four to five minutes until golden brown-and-set aside to drain on a paper towel. Next we make a simple sweet-and-sour sauce by mixing light soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, light brown sugar,-and-honey. Remove the oil from the wok/skillet-and-add the ribs and sweet-and-sour sauce over low heat to cook for another five or six minutes. Garnish with scallions.
The flavors were fantastic. I am going to have this many times in the future, but not prepared the way she instructed. Ribs benefit from slow cooking. That’s what makes them so marvelously tender-and-juicy. The pan fry didn’t work very well. The larger ones didn’t cook through enough-and-I’m a rare to medium rare guy with most meats. Wrestling a bite from the browned outside wasn’t the most pleasant exercise either. All in all, this is a great recipe, just poorly executed. I highly recommend it over “KFC/McDonald’s/indian restaurant in wuxi.”