Tag Archives: sweet

Malaysian Style Sweet Pork Ribs

9 Aug

A few years ago I was watching a cooking show on TV when the host prepared a Malaysian style sweet pork. ribs I’m really sorry, but I just can’t remember neither the name of the show nor of the chef (all I do remember is that he was wearing a T-shirt that looked at least 2 sizes smaller). As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure if it was a Malaysian dish or from some other oriental country. Even the recipe, as I didn’t write it down, may now have somewhat evolved. I really don’t know. We at home call it “Malaysian ribs”.

A piece of advice: do it! It’s a question of “taste it and love it”. Up to now it has 100% approval among my friends (ok, give it a discount, after all friends are expected to support you).

Sauté onions, garlic, ginger, chili pepper and cinnamon sticks

Start by sautéing in a large wok, with vegetable oil, some diced onions, garlic, ginger, 1-2 sliced chili peppers and 1-2 cinnamon sticks. Add some pork ribs individually cut and seal them for a couple of minutes. After that add 1/2 cup of soy sauce and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add around 1-1.5 cups of sugar.

Sealed pork ribs covered with 2 cups of sugar

Immediately after the sugar add 2 cups of a good quality white wine (or apple) vinegar and cover the ribs with cold water.

Pork ribs covered with cold water

Now let the low fire do its thing. Go read a book, watch TV, write a comment on my blog… Ah, the smell may be a bit awkward while the vinegar evaporates.  Don’t pay attention to that.

After around 1 hour this is how they should look like.

Pork ribs after around 1 hour

Hang on, keep leaving your comments on my blog, the ribs are not ready yet. You’ll need around another 30 min. But be careful now, you won’t want the sugar to burn and spoil the whole thing. No, not after all the prep and cooking time. So, watch out for the sauce consistency, specially around 1.5 hours.

Ok, they're ready after around 1.5 hours

If they look like the ones above, getting loose from the bone and with the sauce at the right point, prepare to lick your fingers.

Serve over white rice with some diced scallion.

Malaysian style sweet pork ribs

If you don’t fall in love with that I think you should start looking for a psychiatrist.

Pork Ribs
Malaysian Food

The Best Chinese Food Ever

5 Aug

I have a quite long relationship with the Chinese cuisine.  When a graduate student (around 30 years ago) Chinese restaurants were my favorite ones, and for very practical reasons, they were cheap and didn´t charge for white rice. Thus, we used to go in small groups, usually three or four students, order one single protein dish and fill our adolescent and always empty stomachs with lots of starch.  By the way, the jasmine tea was also free.

After I got my first job and moved to Rio Grande I became friends with a Chinese family, the Chao (Labish, Lien and Don), who then introduced me to Chinese cooking.  With them I’ve learned to prepare several dishes, including a beef and pork dumpling which is a regular part of our family meals in very special occasions.  Once I even prepared a Chinese dinner for them, so that Lien could evaluate my cooking skills.  She approved my cooking, of course (I bet she did it not because they tasted good, but mainly because she was a good friend and didn’t want to hurt my feelings).

A couple of years ago we’ve received a Chinese exchange student, Becky Feng, who besides teaching me some authentic dishes also served as a judge of my Chinese culinary skills.

This continuous relationship with Chinese people and cooking has already produced two posts in the past: Chinese Style Chicken and Noodle Soup and Another Chinese Inspired Meal.

So, no wonder I had to visit a Chinese restaurant during my last trip to São Paulo, where Brazilian largest Chinese community lives.

A general view of the "Liberdade" neighborhood in São Paulo/SP/Brazil

A chose the restaurant Chi-Fu, at Praça Carlos Gomes 200 – Bairro da Liberdade, mainly because I’ve been told that the Chinese Mafia holds its meeting on the upper floors of the restaurant. If Chi-Fu food is good enough for the Chinese Mafia, than it’s good enough for me.

Front of "Chi Fu" restaurant, in São Paulo/SP?Brazil

Let’s make it clear from the start:  I don’t know if the Chinese Mafia meets at this restaurant, in fact I don’t even really care if they do, but let me tell you, I had my best restaurant meal ever.  No, not only the best Chinese meal, the best restaurant meal of any origin. The food was superb.

Choosing the dishes was a hard task, as a wide variety of mouth-watering offers are part of the menu.  After some discussion we (my wife, our friends Renan and Leila, and I) decided to play rather safe and ordered 3 dishes:  noodles with beef (the safest choice), sweet and sour pork and roasted duck (a special offer that day). Tea was already on the table, and bowl of white rice was also ordered.

Noodles and beef (Chi Fu Restaurant - São Paulo/SP/Brazil)

The pasta was prepared in the house and cooked properly. The vegetables were crispy as they should be.  There was a nice smoky taste on the dish which I believe may be the result of toasted sesame seed oil.  Perfect.

Sweet and sour pork (Chi Fu Restaurant - São Paulo/SP/Brazil)

I don’t really know how to describe this dish, as it was, as the name implies, made of perfectly batter coated  pork, with a very well balanced sweet and sour taste. The meat was so tender it nearly melted in your mouth. I could spend days eating this pork non-stop.

But for me the real star was the duck.

Roasted duck (Chi Fu Restaurante - São Paulo/SP/Brazil)

Roasted to perfection… and the skin, oh Lord, the skin…crispy with a layer of fat underneath…shinning like the jewel it really was.  Just priceless.

As I mentioned above, I’ve had Chinese food prepared by a variaty of people, from humble restaurants when I was a student, to home cooking at my friend Chao home, I’ve also been to Chinatown in New York and London, but I had never had any experience like this.

I’m more than sure that the chef and cooks from Chi Fu will go heaven when they die, as that’s the food God will want to be served at his home.

Peking Duck

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chinese Sweet & Sour Pork

“Fenadoce” in Pelotas, Southern Brazil – A Sweet Adventure

15 Jun

Until next June 21, the city of Pelotas, once a leading center in the production of a salt dried meat called “charque” (I will surely write a bit about that on another occasion), is holding its annual “Feira Nacional do Doce” – FENADOCE (something like a National Fair on Sweets) based specially on traditional Portuguese recipes.  Clearly, something not to be missed, if you enjoy sugar in its several forms and presentations.  Thus, last weekend I drove about 60 km with my family to taste some of the most delicious sweets they  have available for the near 300,000 people who visit the fair annually.

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Among my favorite sweets are the crystallized (or candied) fruits, specially figs.  A small factory was set up inside the fair so that you could follow their industrial preparation, which in fact is not very different from what you can do at home.  The central ideia of the process is to make the fruit absorb sugar to saturation point preventing the growth of microorganisms.  The fruits can then be kept in dried places for quite a long time.

Fenadoce in Pelotas/Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit, peaches in this case

You will need a large pan and about 5 kg of green figs, 4 kg of sugar, some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water.  Wash the figs, cover them with water, add 2-3 spoons of baking soda, and bring to boil for about 30 min.  Drain the water and wash the figs.  Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water just enough to cover the fruits, and then boil them for about 2-3 hours.  I usually add one small piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves to the syrup. Let the fruits cool down in the syrup and reserve until the next day, so that they have plenty of time to absorb the sugar.  In the next day bring to boil again for another 2-3 hours. Let them cool once again in the syrup and then remove the fruits and put them to dry on a sieve for another day. After dried pass the fruits in crystal sugar and return them back the sieve for another couple of hours.  Repeat the last step once or twice until the fruits are fully dried and covered with the crystal sugar.

Crystallized (candied) figs

Crystallized (candied) figs

You can try the same basic recipe with other fruits, like peaches, bananas, etc (if the fruit is large cut it in small pieces).  I guarantee the final result is worth the effort.

Crystallized (candied) peaches

Crystallized (candied) peaches

If you happen to be in Brazil in June don’t miss the next FENADOCE, which, as I’ve already pointed, is an annual event.

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