Having dim sum during the 70’s when I was growing up, was not as casual a dining affair as it is today. As children, whenever my siblings and I excitedly jam-packed ourselves like sardines into the back seat of our less-than-luxurious Toyota Datsun at father’s announcement that we were going for dim sum, we knew we were in for a real treat!
“Must be something really auspicious! Maybe Papa got promotion!” my older brothers would be constantly guessing throughout our short, but chatter-filled, car ride to father’s favourite Chinese restaurant. Actually, it was more like everyone else’s favourite dim sum restaurant in a small town like ours, where we had more names in our family, than all the Chinese restaurants in our neighbourhood combined.
It might have been one of the few dim sum places in town, but the chefs there sure did serve the best dim sum treats I ever had as a child. And to this day, I can still vividly recall every square inch of space within that sunshine-filled restaurant with its classic Oriental red doors, and its roomy hall filled with dragon and phoenix motifs beautifully crafted and carved into its wood decor. And what’s a dim sum restaurant without the dim sum aunties, right? I was always amused by the bright-eyed, beaming (and very loud!) aunties with starch-pressed kerchiefs knotted neatly around their napes, skilfully weaving their dim sum carts around the patrons’ tables, with their (very) high-pitched voices piercing through and rising distinctly above the crescendo of conversations and chatter. But most of all, we were there for the food! Those dim sum dishes were truly, wonderfully delicious …my oh my, how I loved all of it!
And perhaps, as a growing child, I was all for the meaty stuff, so it’s no surprise that steamed pork ribs with salted black beans won me over from the time I could learn to spell. These days, there’s really no need to go to a Chinese restaurant (and pay inflated prices!) to enjoy this simple, but so delicious, dim sum dish. So here, I’m sharing my go-to recipe that’s never failed me whenever I create this delicious dish at home for my family.
For me, I just love how the ribs’ sauce is salty, savoury, spicy and pungent with the aroma of the fermented black beans, all at once in every bite. I particularly enjoy the tender texture and robust flavour of the pork ribs, which is left to stand in marinade and seasonings for at least half an hour before steaming, so as to absorb the seasonings and impart fuller, richer flavours. I hope you’ll try it! I guarantee you there won’t be any gravy left (can’t guarantee that your kids will not end up looking like pets licking the sauces off the bones and the dish!).