There’s a boiled meat and vegetable dish in just about every cuisine. The meat may be pork, beef, lamb, venison, mutton or even offal. What vegetables are added is usually dependent on local produce. It’s how the meat is cooked until literally falling off the bones and how flavorful the broth is that define a good pot of boiled beef and vegetables.
Today, I discovered a new way to make the broth for my boiled pork ribs and vegetables. It happened by accident. I had a can of corn kernels, I used some of the kernels for Sam’s vegetarian lunch and I was wondering what to do with the liquid when I decided to add it to the pot where chunks of pork ribs were simmering. I added whole garlic cloves, a small piece of ginger, chopped chilies and a teaspoonful of sugar. Then, just before serving the soup, I stirred in lemon juice… I never realized how a dish so ubiquitous as boiled meat and vegetables can be so good.
The broth is a game-changer. It is reminiscent of the Vietnamese nuoc mam pha but in quite a subtle way. The taste of the ginger is hardly discernible but your taste buds tell you that there’s something there… The chilies give off some heat but in a well-balanced way because the sugar mellows down the heat. And, finally, the lemon juice adds a brightness that makes you pause after the first spoonful of broth and you decide that you want to pour the broth over your rice because it’s so darn good.
I browned the ribs before simmering them to prevent the formation of scum. If you prefer not to brown the meat, you may instead parboil the ribs for 10 minutes, throw out the liquid and rinse the ribs. Your broth will be lighter in color than what you see in the photos.
- enough pork ribs for three people
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 cup liquid from canned corn
- 4 cups meat broth, preferably homemade
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½-inch piece of ginger
- 2 bird's eye chilies, sliced
- your choice of vegetables (I used green beans and carrots)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, optional
- thinly-sliced scallions, to garnish
- Pat the ribs dry with paper towels.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Brown the ribs on all sides.
- Pour in the liquid from the canned corn and the meat broth. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add the garlic cloves, ginger and chilies. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for an hour or until the meat is tender.
- Add the vegetables. Continue simmering under done.
- Turn off the heat. Pour in the lemon juice and stir. Sprinkle in the scallions.
- Serve the boiled meat and vegetables (with hard-boiled eggs, if you like) at once.