Life is short edited

You know how sometimes random bits of wisdom just fall upon your eavesdropping ears and opens up divine epiphanies? That happened to me a couple weeks ago. “Life is too short to cook the same dishes day after day”, I heard someone say, and that hit a cord. I had been working on a narrow range of go-to dishes at home for many years now, and it’s indeed time to inject some excitement into weekday dinners.

So I trawled through my considerable collection of cookbooks and tested out a few new meals. This one was one of  my favourites. It’s a dish that found its way into local Chinese restaurant menus about 15 years ago, but I didn’t realise it was quite so easy to make until now.

To get a more aromatic coffee flavour, use better coffee rather than the instant Nescafe that I experimented with. I remember talking to a chef years ago who made fantastic coffee ribs. As with all great foods, this too came about as an accident. He had taken the restaurant’s stash of fine Italian coffee to make his ribs, not realising it was actually seriously good stuff that the restaurant owner had put aside for serving guests as…well, good coffee. Well the restaurant owner couldn’t find his stock of coffee, but noticed that people were queuing up for the chef’s coffee ribs….mystery eventually solved.

Anyways, here goes. Coffee Ribs for dinner.

Sticky Coffee Ribs

5 meaty pork ribs


2 tbsp maltose

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 cloves, pounded

100 ml water or stock

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp chopped ginger

2 tsp instant coffee powder

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp Chinese wine or mirin

1 tsp corn flour

Salt and pepper to taste


Blanch the pork ribs in boiling water for a minute or two, then drain.

Heat up a wok with a little cooking oil, and brown the pork ribs over high flame. Set aside.

Heat up the wok again and add the maltose, sugar, cinnamon, garlic and cloves. Stir until sugar is melted and starts to caramelise a little.

Add in the remaining marinade ingredients and stir til its all combined and the coffee has dissolved.

Now add in the pork ribs and stir to coat it well.

Transfer to an oven and bake for 2 hours at 170C, or 21/2 hours at 160C. Turn it over every 20 minutes and baste with remaining marinade. (If it starts to darken too much, loosely cover the pork with alumimium foil to prevent it from drying out.)



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