Braised Short Ribs with Black Bean Sauce (Chizhi Paigu)
This classic Chinese dish brings together rich, meaty beef accented by the musky, fermented notes of black beans. The dish requires only a handful of ingredients, but we discovered that the secret to success is how the key elements are handled.
Why This Recipe Works
While developing our braised short ribs with black bean sauce, we were aiming for supremely tender and succulent short ribs in a sauce with the deeply savory flavor of fermented black beans. We found that fermented black beans were too salty to use straight from the package—they first needed to be rinsed and then soaked to rid them of excess salt so that their deep, nutty flavor came through. To supplement the flavor of the black beans, we also added a couple tablespoons of soy sauce, garlic, and Chinese rice cooking wine to our cooking liquid (water). Though not all Chinese braised dishes begin with browning, we chose to brown the short ribs for this recipe before adding the beans, flavorings, and cooking liquid to the pot for two reasons: Browning the ribs rendered some of their abundant fat and it created fond, or browned bits, that contributed rich flavor to the finished sauce.