Since its humble opening in 2005, Xi’an Famous Foods has expanded from one stall in Flushing to 14 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. CEO Jason Wang divulges the untold story of how this empire came to be, alongside the never-before-published recipes that helped create this New York City icon.
From heavenly ribbons of liang pi doused in a bright vinegar sauce to ﬂatbread ﬁlled with caramelized pork to cumin lamb over hand-pulled Biang Biang noodles, this cookbook helps home cooks make the dishes that fans of Xi’an Famous Foods line up for while also exploring the vibrant cuisine and culture of Xi’an.
Transporting readers to the streets of Xi’an and the kitchens of New York’s Chinatown, Xi’an Famous Foods is the cookbook that fans of Xi’an Famous Foods have been waiting for.
Hong Shao “Red Braised” Spareribs
This was one of the few dishes my mom made during our time in Michigan that was truly authentic, and it’s partially due to the simplicity of the ingredients. Any dish that starts with “hong shao” is typically stewed in a soy sauce and spice combo, infusing the meat with its flavour while rendering it tender. Some families prefer beef in this, others will slow-cook pork belly until the fat is as soft as Jell-O, but my mom always went for pork spareribs, a cut more easily accessible at the time. She’d chop up the ribs, stew them with Sichuan peppercorns (her version has an extra tingle to it), and serve the lean, tender meat with rice. As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until the bones were sucked dry—and I wasn’t mad about it.
Serves 2 to 4
¾ cup (180 ml) vegetable oil, divided
¼ cup (56 g) sugar
2 pounds (910 g) pork spareribs (ask your butcher to chop these up into 3-inch/7.5 cm long segments)
4-inch (10 cm) cinnamon stick, broken in half
4 bay leaves
2 star anise pods
20 Sichuan peppercorns
2 green onions, trimmed and cut into
1-inch (2.5 cm) segments
2-inch (5 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
6 tablespoons (90 ml) Shaoxing cooking wine
6 tablespoons (90 ml) soy sauce
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat ¼ cup (60 ml) of the vegetable oil over medium heat.
When the oil just begins to ripple, add the sugar and stir to combine. Keep stirring, being careful not to let the mixture burn. Cook until the sugar is caramel brown, about 2 minutes.
Add the ribs and cook until they just begin to brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
Clean out the pot and dry it thoroughly. Add the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable oil to the pot and turn the heat up to high. Add the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns and fry, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. You want to bring out the flavour without letting the spices burn.
Carefully remove the bay leaves from the pot, then add the ribs and stir. Add the green onions, ginger, cooking wine, and soy sauce. Stir, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 cups (480 ml) water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn down the heat to low.
After 30 minutes, uncover the pot and turn the heat up to high. Reduce the sauce as desired (10 to 15 minutes for saucy ribs, or 20 to 25 minutes for a thicker reduction) and serve.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Abrams Books.