Here is a stack of black sticky sweet-and-sour ribs, not terribly different from those in the buffet tray. Proper Shanghai ribs would be short and straight, but mine are long and curvaceous tonight. I lacked the foresight to have them them sawed at the butcher’s, and I am irrationally scared of my whop-ass Chinese cleaver.
Wuxi ribs these are not, because I was in a hurry, and Wuxi takes a while. Nor are they the much-copied deep-fried ribs of Eastern China: these are a quick stir fry in only a few tablespoons of oil. I disassembled my baby backs the easy way, between the bones, and shallow-fried them like any bit of meat in a wok. (BTW, any such meat is improved by sitting a few minutes in a little salt and a splash of booze, then blotted and tossed with a big pinch of cornstarch). The black-like-tar sauce is the classic for deep-fried ribs, a simple sauce of asian vinegars, soy sauce, and sugar thickened with cornstarch, cooked in the wok after the ribs had been taken away. Scallion scatter on the platter.
These were good, but the best sweet-and-sour ribs I have ever had were made by my Shanghainese roommate one snowy afternoon in Newfoundland many years ago. As we say about all the good stuff in life, I wish I had paid better attention at the time.