so for thanksgiving, i decided to dig up an old family favorite: powder steamed pork ribs. my grandmother makes it with gusto. when she lived in the US, she used to have it at every meal when we visited. after making it myself, i understood why. it’s a dish that you can make ahead in large batches and then re-heat as needed. because it’s steamed, the pork rarely dries out. it tastes as good re-steamed as it does fresh out of the steamer. plus, the prep time is virtually nil when you buy all those pre-packaged mixes! (grandma used to make her version the old fashioned way from scratch, but even she has discovered the convenience of modern mixes).
grandma usually makes her steamed pork ribs in a porcelain bowl, and then just sets the whole thing inside a steamer. for our festive gathering, i decided to steam everything inside a lotus leaf wrapper. the pork ends up taking on a bit of that lotus leaf scent, but really, it’s the dramatic visual effect of the lotus leaf i wanted.
grandma uses pork ribs in her version, and so do i. when i visited sichuan over the summer, the restaurant served up a version made with fatty pork belly, which really wasn’t my cup of tea.
Sichuan Powder Steamed Pork Ribs (粉蒸肉）
|Pork Ribs||3 lbs, cut into 1 inch cubes (easiest to find these at a Chinese grocery store. I buy the super premium strips and then cut into cubes at home)|
|Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Carrots or Pumpkin||2-3 cups, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks|
|5-Spiced Zheng Rou Fen (Steamed Pork Powder)||1 package. See picture above|
|Lotus Leaf||2 leaves, soaked overnight|
|Fresh Garlic||4 cloves, finely minced|
|Rice Wine||2 tbsp|
|Canola Oil||2 tbsp|
- The night before, soak lotus leaves overnight.
- The “5-Spiced Zheng Rou Fen” package contains 4 items: 2 packages of flavoring spice and 2 packages of a coarse white mealy substance that is the broken rice.
- The night before or at least one hour before, marinate the pork ribs using the 2 packages of the flavoring spice from the “5-Spiced Zheng Rou Fen” box, then add fresh garlic, rice wine and canola oil. Mix everything well and leave in refrigerate to let it marinate.
- When ready to steam, line the bottom of a 10 to 12 inch round steamer with the lotus leaf, letting the edges of the leaf flow over the sides of the steamer.
- Place the sweet potato, carrots, pumpkins or yams on the bottom of the steam, on top of the lotus leaf.
- Sprinkle the rice powder (the other two packages inside the “5-Spiced Zheng Rou Fen” box) on top of the marinated pork. And, pour the pork on top of the sweet potato.
- Fold the lotus leaf edges over to cover the pork.
- Place the lid on the steamer and steam for ~90 minutes, or until the pork and sweet potatoes are tender.