New York chef Anita Lo made some seriously complicated and intricate dishes during her Top Chef Masters tenure. While the recipes for barbecued stuffed spare ribs (found here) and edamame dumplings (found here) seemed daunting, they were also drool-worthy so we went for it.
I like dumplings. They almost always contain delectable bites inside those chewy wrappers. I also like edamame (they’re just soybeans in the pod). It never would have occurred to me to put edamame inside of a dumpling, but I’m so glad we did. Especially since these were so easy to make. Steam some frozen edamame, puree three-quarters of them with some soy sauce and lemon juice, toss in the remaining whole beans and wrap spoonfuls inside wonton wrappers. Steam the dumplings and you’ve got a savory, salty, creamy, strangely nutty (and pretty healthy) snack or light dinner. The accompanying dipping sauce is even easier and picks up all the best flavors in the dumplings.
The stuffed spare ribs were not nearly as easy. This was largely because the recipe calls for bone-in spare ribs which are then cooked. You’re supposed to be able to get the bones out after they’ve been cooked. Despite K’s best efforts (and nearly taking off a finger or two with the very sharp knife) those bones were going nowhere. I’m guessing the space left behind where the bones formerly were is supposed to be the space in which to stuff the savory ground pork and glass noodle stuffing. Um, no. After diligently messing with this (and I do mean messing) for quite awhile, we went with Plan B — left the bones in the ribs and spread the “stuffing” over the top. This baked in the oven for about 20 minutes while we made the tart nuoc mam sauce and the peanut sauce.
Because we’d made about 542 components for the dish, we skipped the kohlrabi salad from the same recipe. And it was a good thing we did because after polishing off those light and lovely dumplings and tearing into the meaty ribs which were the very definition of umami, we were seven kinds of full. We even had leftovers which I thoroughly enjoyed the next night for dinner.
If you’re planning on making the ribs, save yourself a lot of time, sanity and probably a fingertip by just getting boneless ribs up front, cutting them and folding them over the stuffing or forget that whole thing and put the stuffing on top. It ended up looking like a fascinating gift covered in glass noodle wrapping and, most importantly, had amazing flavors.