I just love those Chinese Dim Sum spare ribs. So I did mine at home, amping up the flavors a bit while keeping close to that familiar taste of Chinese food we’ve all come to love.
Another amazing thing I’ve proven with this recipe is that the slow cooker can definitely serve as a steamer as well. Yes you got that right – you can cook all your favorite steamed dishes in that slow cooker you already have.
Let’s start with our choice of meat. Pork spare ribs and nothing else. It’s that mix of meat, fat, and cartilage that gives this famous dim sum dish that interesting texture and rich flavor. I had mine neatly cut by the butcher using a meat bandsaw. Well, if you really insist on going for something boneless, at least go for pork belly cubes. It pretty much has that same meat structure without the bones.
Well, if you really insist on going for something boneless, at least go for pork belly cubes. It pretty much has that same meat structure without the bones.
Let’s get our flavors ready. It’s a typical Asian aromatic mix of garlic, shallots, scallions, and ginger. Mince them really fine so you’ll get the most flavors in the short cooking time. For more Asian flavors some oyster sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese cooking wine.
For the main flavoring ingredient – Taosi, or fermented black beans. You can easily find this in the Asian section of any supermarket. Do not use plain cooked black beans here, it just doesn’t taste the same.
Make sure to give your Taosi a quick rinse to get rid of some of the saltiness from the brine that comes with it.
Finally, some chopped chili. That spice would work to perfectly balance out all those rich flavors going on.
Now here’s a secret ingredient – baking soda. Ever wondered how those ribs at the dim sum come out so tender given that they were merely steamed? Even that beef with broccoli stir-fry that just so melt-in-your-mouth tender. Well, it’s baking soda that’s used as a meat tenderizer.
Use about a teaspoon of baking soda for every kilo of meat and leave it for about an hour. Don’t use more than a teaspoon, nor leave your meat in for more than an hour. Doing so would let the baking soda break the meat structure too far, turning it into a mush.
Mix all those flavors in a bowl and get the ribs in to marinate for about four hours. Preferably, pick a bowl that’ll fit in your slow cooker’s insert so you won’t need to change containers later as you get it to steam.
Time to steam. Set a heat-proof bowl at the bottom of the pot and pour in some water.
Set the bowl of marinated pork spare ribs over the base that you’ve set, cover, and leave to steam for 6 hours on a low setting.
You’ll end up with a lot of liquid in that bowl – those natural juices from the pork, black beans, aromatics, and other condiments shall come together into a beautiful mix of flavors. Have lots of rice ready to soak up all those flavors!