One of the most cultured periods of Chinese history, and of Chinese cuisine, was that of the Southern Song Dynasty (1126-1279). The Imperial Court gave banquets with hundreds of dishes. Among them were delights such as hearty spareribs, marinated with honey, stewed and finally deep fried. Recreated and very much enjoyed by me in a Hangzhou restaurant, the dish offers a glimpse into the gastronomic delights of the Song court.
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the spareribs for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Rub the spareribs with the marinade and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
In a medium-size clay pot or casserole, combine the chicken stock with the marinated spareribs. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the spareribs with a slotted spoon. Reduce the liquid in the pot for 15 minutes over high heat or until it is slightly thick and syrupy. Return the spareribs to the pot and coat thoroughly with the mixture. Remove and allow the sparenbs to dry, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil and when it is medium hot, deep-fry the spareribs until they are crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve at once.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.