I have traveled around the world from east to west and all points in between. In fact, I have truly walked around the world. How? I once spent a year in Antarctica and flew down to the South Pole. While I was there I walked around a stick designating the true South Pole three times, which means I walked around the world three times, because I traveled through each longitude on the globe. I really am a Chef with international flair and experience!
Asian and Mediterranean food are generally healthy, but I wanted to write about a term called “Umami.” Basically this is a natural glutamate that transforms, just as Parmesan cheese ages, soy sauce ferments or even a vegetable like a tomato ripens.
The Chinese believe that every meal should have a balance in color, flavors, and textures. The next time you visit a Chinese restaurant, read through the menu and notice how items contrast one another; hot and cold, plain and spicy, or sweet and sour. And the next time you cook, think about using China’s best known spice blend: Chinese five-spice. This spice blend can be called a perfect yin and yang blend because it covers many different layers of flavor. It can liven up almost any dish whether sour, bitter, sweet, pungent (or umami), or salty, and awaken the mildest favor in food.
Chinese 5-Spice Recipe
1 tsp ground Szechwan pepper
1 tsp ground star anise
1 ¼ tsp ground fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
Mix and store in a dry airtight container
Chinese Spicy Barbequed Spareribs
Pork sparerib racks, trimmed, cut lengthwise into thirds (3 each)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce, dark (can use low sodium)
¼ cup+ 1 Tbsp rice wine
1 cup hot bean paste
¾ cup Hoisin sauce
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp white pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced and cut on the bias
2 Tbsp sesame oil
½ cup honey
1 head iceberg lettuce, cleaned and julienned (or use leaves as lettuce wraps)
1. Trim ribs by removing brisket bone and skirt steak area. Combine the soy sauce with ¼ cup rice wine and brush onto ribs.
2. Mix hot bean paste, Hoisin sauce, sugar, chili powder, garlic, ginger, white pepper, scallions, and remaining rice wine.
3. Mix in blender until smooth; set aside ½ cup. Place ribs in this marinade in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place ribs on wire rack on top of sheet pan so oil can drip away from the meat. Let the ribs cook for one hour at 350 and then lower heat to 325 degrees for another hour and a half. Rotate or turn ribs approximately every 30 minutes for even cooking. Remove from oven.
5. Heat the sesame seed oil in sauté pan and add ¼ cup of the pureed sauce from the blender.
6. Heat the honey and then brush cooked ribs with honey, creating a nice glaze on the ribs. Cut into individual pieces and serve with the dipping sauce and lettuce.