JAPANESE HOME COOKING: Plum liquor the secret to savory spareribs

September 25, 2013


Cooked with "umeshu,” plum liquor, pork ribs turn out savory and tender. Yoko Munakata of the Better Home Association introduces a recipe with umami flavor from the bone and the refreshing taste of plum. The acid in the plum liquor breaks down the protein and softens the meat. The recipe will also work with chicken wings. Thick pots are recommended for simmering dishes. Enameled or stainless steel pots are best to cook acidic ingredients. If aluminum pots are used, wash straight away after cooking. Serves four.


8 (800 g to 1 kg) pork spareribs

2 heads pak choi (chingensai)

Ingredients A (skin of ginger half the size of thumb, 1 Tbsp sake)

Ingredients B (1 cup plum liquor, 1 cup water, slices of ginger half the size of thumb)

Seasoning C (2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sugar)

8 plums steeped in liquor (if available)


Cut pak choi into six to eight pieces lengthwise and cook briefly in generous amount of hot water. Spread on sieve and cool. Put Ingredients A and spareribs in same hot water and bring to a boil. (If necessary, remove excess fat from rib beforehand.) Remove ribs when they turn whitish and place on sieve.

Place the ribs and Ingredients B in pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove scum. Place drop lid, then lid of pot shifted a little to the side. Simmer over lower medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Turn sides of ribs. Add Seasoning C and plums if available and cook for 20 minutes. Remove drop lid during the last two to three minutes and cook until most liquid has boiled down.

Serve with pak choi. Pour remaining liquid on ribs.

Estimated time to prepare: 60 minutes (10 minutes to prepare, 50 minutes to cook)

Nutritional information per serving: kilocalories, 550; sodium content, 1.4 grams; fat content, 40.1 grams

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From The Asahi Shimbun's Kashikoi Okazu column

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Spareribs cooked with plum liquor (Photo by Katsumi Oyama)

Spareribs cooked with plum liquor (Photo by Katsumi Oyama)

  • Spareribs cooked with plum liquor (Photo by Katsumi Oyama)
  • Lay pak choi in one layer. (Photo by Katsumi Oyama)
  • Add seasoning after half of simmering is done. If available, add plums at this point. (Photo by Katsumi Oyama)

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