Osmanthus Scented Oolong Tea Sticky Ribs

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It’s my first post of the year, and my first post in 2 months. I wish I had some exciting excuse to cover for my absence, but truth be told, I was simply lazy. No, not too lazy to cook, NEVER(!!!). Just too lazy to cook, set up for pictures, take pictures, upload pictures, measuring every ounce of ingredient I put into my recipes, documenting said ingredients into a recipe and writing something to go with it. Yes. Blogging is a lot of work, and sometimes, I just miss being in the moment, playing with my ingredients, adding a dash of this and drop of that without arduously measuring each every thing along the way. So no, I do not have an exciting excuse for not blogging, but I consider it a hiatus to get to know my food… Kind of an “Eat, Pray, Love” journey for me to reacquaint with my pantry ingredients — smelling the spices, if you will — and enjoying a piping hot dish right away instead of letting my camera feast on it first.

For my first post of the year, I’ve chosen a dish I’ve created out of ingredients from my Chinese pantry. I had just made a steamed osmanthus golgi berry “cake” the other day, and had plenty of osmanthus tea left. Coincidentally, my dad brought a tin of the most glorious GaoShan Oolong tea from Taiwan, and I was itching to make something creative that also kept to my Chinese roots. Earl Grey tea has been getting a lot of spotlight in the past year, so I thought of re-purposing my oolong into foods as well. Now, I know some tea aficionados are probably squirming that I’m using such a high grade tea for food. But I contend, that the same argument for good red wine in food applies to tea as well, and the better the tea, the better the food.  I had to be rather restrained with my seasoning to ensure that the nutty, apricoty fragrance of osmanthus, and the perfume of GaoShan Oolong isn’t eclipsed by any of my ingredients. So aside from the umami I tried to extract from soy sauce and a tiny amount of fish sauce, I abstained from adding any spices to my braising liquid. The result was a sweet and sticky pork rib perfumed with osmanthus and a subtle hint of oolong. Rather gorgeous dish when garnished with the bright yellow osmanthus flowers too!

Here you have it, another Nommy Noms recipe! 🙂

Osmanthus Scented Oolong Tea Sticky Ribs

Ingredients

Marindade:

  • 1.5 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Shao Xing Wine (substitutes: rice wine, sherry)
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 500g (approx) Pork Ribs
  • Oil (as needed)

Tea:

  • 2 tsp Osmanthus flowers (dried)
  • 9 grams GaoShan Oolong tea leaves (or any high grade Oolong)
  • 750mL   hot water (just below boiling)

Brasing Sauce:

  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp light soy
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 45g rock sugar (substitute: white sugar)

Garnish:

  • 2 tsp osmanthus flowers
  • 2 Tbsp warm water

The Fun Part:

  1. Cut pork ribs into sections along the bone. Mix in marinade ingredients and let sit for 30 mins – 2 hrs.
  2. Heat a pan on medium high heat, adding enough oil to cover the entire surface of the pan. Shallow fry pork ribs till light brown on each side, once done, set aside. Alternatively, you can fry the pork ribs till a light brown.
  3. Steep the oolong and osmanthus with about 750mL of hot water for about 4mins. Drain away tea leaves and osmanthus with a fine colander, reserving tea.
  4. In a sauce pan (just big enough to lay pork ribs in a layer), combine braising sauce ingredients, and add in steeped tea to make braising liquid. Heat till boiling. Add browned pork ribs into liquid, braising liquid should just cover the ribs. Don’t worry if rock sugar hasn’t dissolved by the time the braising liquid boils, sugar will dissolve as the pork cooks.
  5. Turn down heat to medium and simmer (uncovered) for 50-60 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced and caramelized. As the braising liquid reduces, the flavour intensifies. To avoid over seasoning, taste and season only when sauce becomes caramel. Meanwhile add 2 Tbsp of warm water to rehydrate 2 tsp of osmanthus flowers for garnish.
  6. When the sauce is thickened into a dark caramel oolong tea sauce, plate the ribs and sprinkle the rehydrated osmanthus flowers as a garnish. Serve hot!

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