Steamed spare ribs with black beans, right, and with sour plums, left. The guys like ribs with black beans but mom and I prefer sour plums so this half-half dish is a compromise. I don't recommend doing both flavors in one dish though because both flavors are mixed up after a couple of digs, literally, at the dish.
This is such an everyday dish that you should skip this post unless you really need to read it.
Steamed pork ribs with black beans is a common Cantonese home dish that's so popular it's even served as a dim sum at yum cha restaurants. My dad would always place a small plate of steamed pork ribs with black beans in front of me, for me only, when the family ate dim sum out. And he would always jokingly say "Ah ----(my Chinese name), nah, you rack of ribs, eat ribs lah!" I didn't mind that he was reminding me that I was as thin and meatless as the ribs because I loved being pampered and not having to share the delicious nibbly ribs with my four siblings. My own plate of ribs was my military-trained father's rare show of affection for me and I basked in it.
For the uninitiated, steamed ribs are to be popped into the mouth and worked with the teeth and tongue to get the meat off before politely spitting the bone out, or, if you want to appear aristocratic, use your chopsticks to pick them out. Just thought that those who haven't a clue how to eat steamed ribs might want to know.
Although black beans are very salty, do not soak them or they loose their flavor. Just reduce the salt when you season the dish. You can add the sugar and sesame oil to the beans first before mixing them in with the ribs but I didn't find any difference in the taste of the beans when I did that. A different take on the dish is to fry the black beans, onions and red or green bell peppers and then add all the other ingredients (use some of the cornflour as sauce thickener at the end) and it's another classic Cantonese dish, fried spare ribs with black beans sauce.
Steamed Spare Ribs With Black Beans
400 g pork spare ribs, in bite sizes (try chicken wings for kosher/halal dish)
1 heaped T black beans, washed quickly
1/2 T chopped garlic
2 T corn flour*
1 T light soy sauce**
1/2 t fine sugar
1/2 t salt (or to taste)
a few shakes of white pepper
1 t sesame oil
1 T rice wine (optional)
1 T water
garnish: sliced red chillies
* or double this if you want the ribs well-coated and smooth.
** omit if you want paler-looking ribs, restaurant-style.
1. Put everything into a heat-proof dish and mix well. Leave covered in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours.
2. Get a pot/wok of water boiling, put the dish in and steam the ribs at high heat for 20 minutes. Serve hot.
note: steamed spare ribs in yum cha houses taste better than home-made because msg is added. If you like more sauce, add another 2 to 3 tablespoons of water but remember that steaming adds liquid to the dish and the pork gives out liquid too so extra water is not really necessary.