Keeping up the theme of finishing half opened packs of food before my travels the next item to make its move from cupboard to pan was beancurd sticks. These fine items aren't too popular over here but they're easy enough to get from Chinatown and if you like tofu and a bit of texture then you should like these.
When soy milk is simmered a skin starts to form on the surface and this skin can be removed, bunched up and dried into these sticks. These sticks are then rehydrated and used in dishes, both stir fries and braised dishes. They can have a leathery texture, a little bite before giving, and a tofu taste. I read about soup using them alongside ribs, and was going to make that, but then googling turned up a brief outline of a braised dish involving the two and so I decided to go down that path instead.
I wanted to up the umami so I stuck a cube of red fermented beancurd and some dried shittaki in too, add to this the black beans and you've got a deeply savoury dish full of different textures: the soft chew of the mushrooms, melt in the mouth pork and the leathery bite of the beancurd strips.
Braised Pork Ribs and Beancurd Sticks
750gr pork ribs
75gr bean curd sticks (4 sticks from my pack)
6 dried shittaki mushrooms
1 TB dark soy
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cube red fermented beancurd
1 TB black beans, finely chopped
5cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 ts sugar
1 TB cornflour in a little cold water
Soak the beancurd sticks and dried mushrooms in cold water for a couple of hours. Cut the beancurd sticks into quarters and take them stems off the mushrooms before cutting the heads into quarters or halves depending on size.
Using a cleaver chop the ribs into short sections, maybe 8cm long each. For the ribs I had that just involved cutting them in half. Cover them in the dark soy, rubbing well to coat and leave to marinade for an hour.
Heat some oil in a frying pan and brown the ribs well, I did this in a couple of batches.
Drain the oil until you've just a tablsepoon left then fry the garlic, ginger and black beans till fragrant then add the fermented beancurd and fry for 30 seconds more, breaking it up as you go.
Add the pork, beancurd, mushrooms, water and sugar then bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the ribs are tender, it took me about an hour.
Take off the lid, bring to the boil again and then add the cornflour, boiling to thicken.
Check the seasoning and serve with some boiled rice and something green.