Soy sauce steamed ribs are a traditional, and very delicious Cantonese dish having a characteristic tempeh and garlic flavor.
The first time I ate this dish was in a cafeteria. The pictures looked mouth-watering and my friends and I just had to try it! When the waiter brought our meal, the portions were disappointingly small, with only 3-4 ribs, we couldn’t get enough of them. It was so good I determined to work out how to make it, and in more generous amounts! I did a lot of homework, tried and tested different recipes until I perfected my own fragrant juicy pork ribs. And finally, our family’s favorite steamed ribs recipe debut is here!
Here’s what you will need for this recipe:
- 500 g pork ribs, the ones I had in the café were cut to 2 cm or so, but whatever length you buy will be fine. You do not need to use ribs, lean meat works just as well but should be cut into 2 cm pieces to get the most flavor.
- 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped (not minced)
- 35 g green onion
- 15 g tempeh
- 1 red chilli pepper
- 20 ml oyster sauce
- 10 ml light soy sauce
- 10 ml dark soy sauce
- 5 g sugar
- pinch of salt
- 12 g corn starch
- 20 ml peanut oil
- 20 ml cooking wine
This dish is divided into three stages of cooking. The first stage is to use light soy sauce and oyster sauce to marinate the ribs, the second stage is to then coat the ribs in the prepared tempeh seasoning and continue to marinate for increased flavor, and the third stage is the actual steaming. Here are the details:
Prepare the ribs for the first stage of marinating. Rinse the ribs, dry and place into a large bowl. Combine the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, cooking wine and salt, and pour over the ribs. The tempeh will be used later, adding more salty flavor, so you need to be sparing with the salt in this recipe.
Mix thoroughly with your hands and then add 8 g of the corn starch (leaving 4 g for the next stage), mixing until the ribs are well coated with the paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
While the ribs are marinating in the refrigerator, prepare the ingredients for the second marinade. Chop garlic cloves into thin slices, then into strips, and finally chop finely. Try not to use too much pressure when chopping garlic. When garlic is crushed, the juice burns when frying and becomes bitter.
Slice the green onions diagonally. Use the whites of the onions for the cooking, and the green parts for garnishing.
Rinse the tempeh and chop finely.
Slice the red chilli. If you prefer a less spicy dish, you can remove the seeds, but if you like it hot, leave them in! Put a few slices aside for garnishing later.
Take a flat non-stick pan, and heat the peanut oil. Add in the chopped garlic, stirring constantly with the spatula to cook it evenly. Fry until the pungent smell of the garlic reduces to a more mellow fragrance and it is pale golden.
Toss in the chopped tempeh and stir fry until the tempeh’s own fragrance is released. Tempeh needs to be pre-fried in oil before it can be used in any dish.
Then add the chopped green onions and red chilli, stir fry about 2 minutes. The fragrance is so amazing you might be tempted to eat this mixture on its own, but you need to push on! Transfer the mixture to a plate and let it cool.
For the third step, take the ribs out of the refrigerator, and once the tempeh seasoning is cool.
Mix it through evenly with your hands. Add the other 4 g of corn starch to coat the ribs. Cover with plastic wrap and put back into the refrigerator to marinate for another hour.
Once the ribs have been marinated they are ready to steam. The corn starch can cause the ribs to stick together, so to prevent this, mix in some peanut oil (about 8 ml), so that the surface of the starch paste is wrapped in a layer of oil.
Spread the ribs in a single layer on a plate. Wrap the plate in aluminum foil, to avoid evaporation and water intrusion. First boil the steamer, and then steam the ribs for 35 minutes. If you are using lean meat, the steaming time can be shortened to 15 minutes.
Serve the cooked ribs with a sprinkle of red chilli and green onions for garnish. And here you have a full plate of delicious soy sauce steamed ribs to share with friends (or not).