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Singapore — Faye, my gracious host, learned this rib recipe from her friend Lim’s mother whom she claims is ‘expert in cooking’. While she learned this recipe from Lim’s mother, Faye would also ask, ‘How much?’ and Lim’s mother would reply ‘Aga-aga‘, or ‘Just estimate’. This I have learned from many home kitchens in China.
‘We do not measure our ingredients, we cook with our hearts!’
These pork ribs are slightly sweet from sugar with a little tang from the tamarind. Faye notes the tamarind’s acidity tenderizes the meat, but add the sugar at the very end or sugar may toughen the meat. This is a Peranakan recipe as Lim’s mother is also Malaysian Chiese.
- 10 shallots
- 10 cloves garlic
- 6-8 cayenne red chili peppers (Capsicum annuum), seeded
Combine all in a food processor and mince or chop finely by hand and meditate.
Tamarind Chili Pork Ribs
- 2 tablespoons soybean oil
- 7 tablespoons chili paste (recipe above)
- 2 tablespoons soybean paste
- 1½ kilograms pork ribs, 2-inch pieces with fat trimmed off
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (thick Indonesian variety is syrupy and slightly sweet)
- 7 stalks fresh lemon grass, white part smacked to release flavor
- 6 cayenne red chili peppers (Capsicum annuum), seeded
- 1 tablespoon dried tamarind
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Combine tamarind with warm water to soften. Do not discard water as it will be used in the dish.
- Heat oil in a deep iron pot. Stir-fry chili paste and soy bean paste until fragrant.
- Toss in pork ribs and coat all sides with the fragrant pastes. Add dark soy sauce, lemon grass, 3 chili peppers, and tamarind with water. If you prefer more sauce, add a little more water. Simmer for 40-50 minutes or until meat is soft.
- Stir in sugar. Remove cooked chillies and replace with remaining three fresh red chillies. Toss a little and serve hot.
Yet another dish great with rice. Faye served this with Kari Ayam and Thai Jasmine rice.