There is something magical about the regional cuisines in China that speaks to the soul of the people. The distinction between Northern and Southern dishes is fascinating, with Southerners opting for lighter and sweeter flavors compared to their Northern counterparts. One of the most famous Southern dishes is the tang cu pai gu, also known as Shanghai Sweet and Sour Ribs – a delectable cold appetizer that will leave your taste buds dancing with its perfect balance of soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar.
In Chinese, appetizers are typically called “冷菜” or “cold dishes.” There are many options, all of which are served cold or at room temperature.
I took a bite of this while it was still hot from the stove while I was making it today, and it was delicious. But we ate it for dinner while it was at room temperature, and the flavor transformation and amplification were truly remarkable.
I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but this tang cu pai gu recipe blew away my high standards.
Short rib pieces, measuring between an inch and two in length, are typically used to make Shanghai Sweet-Sour Ribs (tang cu pai gu). You can get assistance with this from your local butcher or use baby back ribs instead. In reality, there are no guidelines.
- 2 lb. of pork ribs(900g)
- 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. of shaoxing wine (divided)
- 3 tbsp. of oil (divided)
- 8 thin slices of ginger
- 4 scallions (white parts only, chopped)
- 2 tbsp. of sugar (rock sugar is preferred if you have it)
- 2 tsp. of dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of Chinese black vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Wash and dry the ribs with a paper towel. For 15 minutes, marinate the ribs in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of shaoxing wine.
- Brown the ribs on all sides in 1 tablespoon oil heated over medium heat in a pan with a flat bottom. Leave it on a plate for later.
- Over medium heat, in a fresh wok, cook the ginger and scallions in another tablespoon of oil until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Put them in a separate bowl and remove them from the wok. In a wok over low heat, add another tablespoon of oil and the sugar. Make sure it melts by stirring it. Put in the ribs, and use the melted sugar to cover them. You should turn the temperature down.
- Toss in the remaining shaoxing wine, the dark soy sauce, vinegar, water, and the cooked ginger and scallion. Bring to a boil over high heat. After that, put the lid back on and let it simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking. When the 30 minutes are up, if there is still a lot of liquid in the pot, take the lid off and turn the heat up to high, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and the ribs are coated and sticky.
- These ribs taste best when they are served at room temperature. Toss in some toasted sesame seeds for a little extra flavor.