Is it a Chinese dish? Well, it’s Asian. Going through the ingredients list, there are more Chinese ingredients but I wouldn’t pretend that this is a traditional Chinese dish. The ribs are seared and searing meat before braising or stewing is more French than Asian so… It’s Asian fusion. That’s as far as I’d go in categorizing this lovely meat dish.
Is it a braised dish or a stew? Based on the amount of cooking liquid, I’d say braised. Like stew, however, the meat is even tastier if allowed to sit in the fridge overnight after cooking. And that makes it an ideal make-ahead dish.
If you want to cook this dish in advance, do not add the mandarin orange segments and sliced scallions after cooking. Cool the ribs, transfer to a covered container and keep in the fridge overnight.
To reheat, place the ribs in a heatproof bowl, cover tightly and steam. DO NOT reheat directly in a pan. There is so little liquid in the dish that the meat might scorch before getting heated through. So, use a steamer.
After reheating, arrange the ribs on a serving plate and garnish with the mandarin orange segments and sliced scallions.
Mandarin pork ribs
- 1.2 kilograms pork spare ribs
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 to 2 ½ cups Mandarin orange juice - preferably freshly squeezed or unsweetened and undiluted commercial orange juice
- salt - to taste
- sugar - optional
- 1 cup mandarin orange segments
- ½ cup sliced scallions
- Wipe the ribs dry with a kitchen towel.
- Heat the sesame seed oil in a shallow pan wide enough to accommodate the ribs in a single layer.
- Drop the ribs in the hot oil making sure they don’t overlap.
- Cook over high heat to sear the ribs. Give them quarter turns for even browning.
- Sprinkle the grated ginger over the browned ribs.
- Pour in the soy sauce, black vinegar and mirin. Swirl the pan a few times to mix the liquids together. Bring to the boil and cook uncovered for about five minutes, turning the ribs a few times.
- Pour the orange juice over the ribs and sprinkle in about a teaspoonful of salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pan tightly and cook the ribs for about an hour or until the meat is tender.
- Taste the sauce. If it needs more salt, add some. You may also add some sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce. If you used commercial orange juice, you will likely need to add some sugar.
- Turn up the heat and continue cooking the ribs until the sauce is sticky and almost dry. During the last few minutes, turn the ribs around to caramelize as much of the surface as possible.
- Arrange the ribs on a serving plate.
- Drizzle whatever sauce is left in the pan over them.
- Garnish with mandarin orange segments and sliced scallions.
- Serve your Mandarin pork ribs while hot.