Auntie M’s Family-Favorite Spare Ribs

When I was a newlywed, I was given this very special recipe from Aunty Matsue (Inouye) Omori, Sen. Daniel Inouye’s aunt. Aunty is remembered for her special recipes and her dedication as a third grade teacher at Pu‘unēnē School.

2 lbs. soft-bone pork spare ribs (precut in cubes or regular)
1 cup vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
2 cloves garlic (pounded)
1 small piece ginger (pounded)
2 tsp. Chinese thick soy sauce
2 tsp. shoyu
1 tsp. salt
1 can pineapple chunks
1 each turnip & carrot
1/2 cup stock (taken from boiling ribs)

Preparing the ribs: If not precut, cut the ribs in small, 1-inch, bite-sized cubes. Rinse the ribs in a medium pot by pouring boiling water over them, then drain. Add enough water to cover the ribs. Boil for 2 minutes, drain the water into a separate container and keep it to be added as stock.

Mixing ribs and sauce: Mix all of the ingredients, including the stock, with the ribs. Let the ribs soak and marinate in the sauce for 4 hours or even overnight in the refrigerator.

Cooking the ribs: Take the ribs out of the sauce and place them in a separate container. (Reserve the marinade.) Dredge the ribs with all-purpose flour. In a separate pot, brown the ribs in cooking oil (olive oil is okay), then drain the excess oil. Pour the sauce back in with the ribs (option: add 1 tsp. red wine or to taste).

Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes until tender. Add 1 tsp. cornstarch to thicken sauce; add more to desired thickness.

Garnish with pineapple chunks or small cubes, or thin-cut white turnips and carrots.

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