Ribs with pickled grapes and pork floss

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The Silk Road has to be the most famous trade route of all time, opening up trade between the East and the West for centuries. In this recipe, Andrew Wong pairs slow-cooked ribs in a rich sauce with pork floss, pork crackling and pickled grapes to represent the journey these trade envoys would go on, taking inspiration from the dry, arid deserts traders would have had to cross and the grape wines the emperor created to welcome envoys with when they finally arrived in China.

Read Mukta's feature to discover the full story behind this incredible dish.

First published in 2019





sticky sauce

  • 500g of sugar
  • 800ml of water
  • 150ml of Chinese red vinegar
  • 150ml of malt vinegar
  • 5g of star anise

pork crackling

pork floss

to finish


Begin by preparing the pork crackling. Bring 4 litres of water to the boil and add the pork skin. Leave to simmer for 3 ½ hours or until soft to the touch. Leave to cool in the liquid, then drain and scrape off any thick areas of excess fat until it has a uniform thickness (be careful not to rip the skin)
Meanwhile, cook the pork floss. Simmer the pork in the water (covered) for 3 hours or until soft. Stir in the rest of the ingredients (apart from the sugar), then continue to simmer until all the water has evaporated
For the ribs, mix the bean curd, spring onion, ginger, black beans, wine, soy sauces and salt together in a bowl that will fit inside a large bamboo steamer. Add the ribs, tossing to coat thoroughly, then place the lid on the steamer. Set over a pot of water simmering over a low heat and cook for 2 hours, until the ribs are tender but just holding onto the bone. Once cooked, remove the ribs from the steamer and set aside to cool and dry
Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then stir and cook for several hours until the mixture reduces to a honey-like consistency
  • 500g of sugar
  • 800ml of water
  • 150ml of Chinese red vinegar
  • 150ml of malt vinegar
  • 5g of star anise
Once cooked, lay the skin out on a dehydrator set to 60°C for 6 hours. If you do not have a dehydrator, place the skin on a rack set over a baking tray and place in an oven on its lowest setting with the door slightly ajar until dried out (roughly 6 hours)
Remove the pork for the floss from the pan and, using the back of a fork, shred the meat into strings. Place the shredded pork in a wok and gently cook over a low heat to remove all the moisture, then add the sugar to the pan and continue to fry, stirring constantly, until the meat turns dry and crisp (regular stirring is required to stop the floss from burning). Set aside
  • 100g of granulated sugar
Preheat a deep pan of oil or a deep-fat fryer to 180°C. Deep-fry the ribs in batches, cooking until they darken slightly in colour. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
In the same oil, also at 180°C, break off small shards of the dried pork skin and deep-fry for a few minutes until they puff up. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper
Add the deep-fried ribs to the reduced sauce and gently cook until the sauce sticks to the ribs. Slice the grapes very thinly and dress in a few drops of lemon juice
To serve, remove the ribs from the sauce and coat with the sesame oil and sesame seeds to finish. Place a rib on each plate, then top with the pork floss, shards of pork crackling and grape slices. Garnish with the sorrel and apple blossom to finish
First published in 2019

After a tour of the kitchens and restaurants of China, Andrew Wong returned to his parents' restaurant in London and transformed it into a temple of regional Chinese cuisine.

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