For avid lovers of zi char, har cheong gai, or prawn paste chicken, is the must-have dish at every zi char restaurant. During this stay-at-home period, many of us might have more time on our hands to experiment with cooking new dishes. So, instead of the usual har cheong gai, why not change it up and try making har cheong ribs instead?
A key tip is to get a good cut of meat, like prime ribs.
Har cheong is made from fermented shrimp. Shrimp paste is characteristically salty with a strong pungent seafood flavour.
For balance, I use ginger juice and ground spices to marinate the meat. Ginger juice also tenderises the meat.
Sand ginger powder (sha jiang fen in Mandarin) is aromatic. It is not commonly found in supermarkets or provision shops. I found it at Kwong Cheong Thye’s retail shop in Geylang.
The powder is nice to have, but if you can’t get any, it is fine to leave it out.
Marinating the meat for four hours should be sufficient for the meat to soak up the flavours.
If you intend to marinate it overnight, cut back on the shrimp paste as the meat may get overly salty.
Deep-fry the ribs over medium-low heat so that the meat can cook through evenly without getting burnt.
- 600g prime ribs, cut into pieces 5cm in length
- 1½ tbsp ginger juice (from 60g fresh ginger)
- ¼ tsp Chinese rose wine
- 2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
- 1 tsp sand ginger powder (optional)
- 2 tsp five spice powder
- ⅓ tsp ground white pepper
- 2 tbsp prawn paste
- 3 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp corn flour
- Cooking oil for deep frying
- 3 limes, halved (for garnish)
Wash and rinse the ribs. Place them in a deep dish.
Add the ginger juice, Chinese rose wine and Chinese rice wine. Mix well.
Use a thin skewer to lightly pierce each piece of meat. This allows the marinade to better penetrate.
Add the sand ginger powder, five spice powder, ground white pepper.
Wear gloves and massage the ground spices into the ribs.
Add the prawn paste, water and corn flour.
Mix well and massage into the meat.
Cover in clingwrap and let it marinate in the fridge for four hours.
Heat enough oil to deep-fry the ribs.
Do not fry too many pieces at one time to avoid the ribs sticking together. Fry over medium-low heat until golden brown.
Place on kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Serve hot with limes at the side.
ABOUT THE CHEF: You can follow Hedy on her Instagram account @hedchefhedykhoo for more of her culinary adventures.
Text: Hedy Khoo/The Straits Times