Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Paigu (Chinese Spare Ribs) and Choy Sum (Cai Xnin )

 Choy sum (cai xin in mandarin), also known as Chinese flowering cabbage, is my new vegetable discovery.  While attempting to buy Chinese broccoli, which by the way reminds me of Italian rapini, I was told that it was unavailable and so inquired about the cai xin.  It looked somewhat similar to me.  It came highly recommended by the store owner, who informed me that she had just made some for her lunch.   All I recall of her recipe was garlic (which being Italian, I love) and  of course the use of a wok.  I  wasn't keen on buying a large bottle of Chinese wine as she suggested, and so decided to wing it by scouring my fridge for an alternative ingredient.   I  stir fried it in lots of chopped garlic, light soy sauce and some hoisin sauce.  It turned out to be quite tasty but slightly chewy, even though I slit the larger part of the vegetable's stalk.  Definitely worth adding to my repertoire of green veggies. 
I served the cai xin ( I'm practicing for my next shopping trip) with spicy  paigu, chinese pork ribs, adapted from recipe found in  Tom Kime's  "Asian Bites" (recipe follows). To accompany the greens and pork ribs, I stir fried some rice noodles in the same pan with the garlic hoisin sauce.

Paigu (Chinese barbecue ribs) 

3 1/2 lbs pork ribs ( about 2 inches in length)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon  honey
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 inch piece fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek(ground fresh chili paste)

Boil the pork ribs in water for 20 minutes and drain.  Let cool.
In a bowl mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and Sambal chili paste .
Transfer into a sealable freezer bag and add the ribs, making sure that the meat is well coated.
Allow the ribs to marinate for 3-5 hours or overnight.
Place the ribs in a roasting pan covered with aluminum and spread the remaining marinade on the ribs.  Bake in a 350º F oven for 45 minutes.


  1. Another quick and easy way to cook cai xin:
    Blanch cai xin in boiling water for not more than 2 min.
    Remove from water and drain. Arrange it on a serving plate
    Fried chopped garlic with oil until lightly brown then add a 1-2 tbsp oyster sauce , and let it bubble....(1-2 min over high heat)

    Pour the mixture all over the cai xin, and serve...a quick dish that you can find in some restaurant in Malaysia

  2. Loong, thanks so much for the cooking suggestion. My grocery lady also suggested Chinese cooking wine along with the garlic. What do you think?