Today on Souped Up Recipes, we are making Pai Gu Men Main (排骨焖面). Pai Gu and Mian mean ribs and noodles. Men is the cooking method that I am excited to show you. The ribs are braising at the bottom, which lifts up the noodles so they can be steamed right above that. In the end, we will mix everything together, they will be really flavorful and delicious. This is a super easy dinner meal and serves a whole family.
- 2 lbs. of pork ribs
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 5-6 slices of ginger
- 1.5 tbsps. of sugar
- 1/4 cups of Chinese cooking wine
- 1/4 cups of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- 2 cups of hot water
- 1 star anise
- 1.5 tsps. of Sichuan peppercorn
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- A few red dried chilies, optional
- 1 lb of fresh noodles
- 8 oz of snap peas
- Fresh red chili and cilantro as garnish
Use the tip of your knife to loosen up the silver skin on the edge. Grab a paper towel and rip that off. This is an optional step but your ribs will come out much tender without it.
Slice it in between the bones into individual ribs. These are back ribs. You can also use spareribs if you want. This dish can be made with chicken tight and beef ribs. You just have to adjust the braising time so they come out tender.
I am using a heavy-duty clay pot to do the braising because it has good heat capacity. A dutch oven and cast iron pot will also work really well.
Pre-heat the clay pot until it is nice and hot. Drizzle a little bit of cooking oil just to lubricate the bottom. Place in the ribs one by one. Keep the heat on high. It takes a few minutes on each side to get some nice golden color. This is very important as it builds the foundation of the flavor so just be patient here.
When you see one side is beautiful like that, you can flip them all over and now it will take a few more minutes to brown the other side.
During this time, you can quickly peel 5 cloves of garlic and slice some ginger. Add them to the clay pot. Stick them in between the ribs. Let the heat to activate the aromatics. Clear a small space in the middle and add 1.5 tbsp of sugar. Just leave it there and let the sugar caramelize slowly.
Add 1/4 cup of Chinese cooking wine, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce. Mix this really well. Pour in 2 cups of boiling hot water. You can heat up the water in the microwave or in a different pot in advance. Adjust the position of the ribs so they stay below the water.
Put the spices into a spice bag and add it to the clay pot: 1 star anise, 1.5 tsps. of Sichuan peppercorn, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, and a few red dry chilies. Let it simmer on low heat for 50 minutes.
50 minutes later, let’s check the doneness of the ribs. When you see the meat is pulling away from the bone like that, you know it is tender. Be sure to check the liquid amount as well because everybody’s stove and cookware is different. It should be just a little bit below the ribs. If you have too much liquid, you can crank up the heat to reduce it. If you have too little, you can add more hot water. Mine is perfect. Now I am going to add my snap peas. Other hard vegetables such as green beans, yard beans, carrot will also work.
Loosen up the noodles and lightly place them into the clay pot. Do not pad it down. We want it to be airy and fluffy, which allows circulation and ensures even cooking. Put on the lid. Switch the heat to medium-low and let it cook for 5 minutes. This is the “焖” technique that I mentioned in the beginning. The noodles are lifted by the ribs, so they are are not touching the braising liquid directly. We are using the steam to heat up the noodles.
I am using fresh ramen noodles. You can use other types, such as wonton noodles, egg noodles, lo mein noodles, even pasta will work. But they need to be fresh. Dry noodles from a package contain a very low water ratio, they won’t cook right in the pot. Most Asian markets will carry fresh noodles in their fridge or frozen section. If it is frozen, you have to defrost it in advance. If you have time, you can click here to learn how to make your own noodles.
5 minutes later, all the noodles are welted. Give it a nice mix to combine the sauce with the noodles. You can throw in some red chilies and cilantro as garnish. As you are stirring it, keep an eye on the sauce amount. When you see there is no more sauce at the bottom, turn off the heat. If you continue to cook, it will start to stick to the bottom.
This smells amazing. The noodles have a deep brown flavorful look afterward. The texture is completely different than boiled noodles. They are chewy and firm in a pleasant way. The rib is very tender. I love easy one-pot recipes like this. So little prepping, and not too many dishes to wash. Perfect for a weeknight. You can even serve this whole pot on the table because clay pot can keep the food warm for a long time.