Ribs cooked in this style are called tangcu paigu in China. Elsewhere in China they may simply be cooked in vinegar, sugar and soy sauce but to adding Sichuan peppercorns and crushed red pepper adds a southwest China flavour. However, you can eliminate the heat if you wish and the ribs will still be delicious. No oil is required to make this dish and beef ribs can be substituted for pork. Beef will be just as tasty but may require longer cooking times depending on the size of the ribs.
Sweet and sour ribs
- Over high heat bring the water, ribs and peppercorns to a roiling boil in a wok. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil for 20 minutes. (Ribs are not a particularly tender meat. Boiling them for this long eliminates some toughness by infusing them with water.)
- When the water has almost completely evaporated and the meat is tender and juicy, add the vinegar and soy sauce and mix with the remaining water in the wok.
- Slowly pour in both sugars and add crushed chilli, according to taste.
- Reduce heat to low and stir to combine. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens. This may take several minutes.
- When the sauce has thickened to your liking, transfer to a serving dish, garnish with fresh coriander (cilantro) and sesame seeds and serve with steamed rice. Serves 4-6. Enjoy!