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lazy question about asian markets/cooking

I see a lot of recipes, like some Pad Thais, that call for little pieces of chinese spare rib (the neon red appetizer kind you order off the take out menu.)

Anyway, is there a packaged prepared version of this? I shop at lots of little and big asian markets, but haven't seen it (haven't really looked hard or asked though.) It doesn't make sense that so many recipes would expect you to cook it fresh separately.

Is it available packaged? What's it packaged like?

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  1. It's the sort of thing my supermarket butchery always has - either just the pieces of rib or, perhaps more often, already coated in a Chinese style sauce.

    1. The only thing I can really tell you is to either go to one of those chicken/pork stores, where they hang out the foods on the window sill, and get yourself about half a pound of those, or you can also get it from your local Chinese restaurant, although I bet it's not as good in quality.

      I couldn't even begin to tell you how to cook. I am a chow hound, and not a cook hound, unfortunately.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FanOfJoeBiden

        My wife makes these at home. Get country style pork ribs in the supermarket. In Asian markets look for packs of Chinese roast pork marinade in the spice shelf. Follow the spice instructions and marinade the pork for a few hours and then pop them in the oven to cook. Pretty simple and good.

        The easiest way is to buy them already cooked in the restaurant or market. Any Chinese market will have them in the cooked food counter and sell by the pound. They are usually pretty good. Restaurants are the best IMHO. XO Taste, Mark's Duck House and Miu Kee in Falls Church are good bets. Any Cantonese restaurant will have these (alongside the roast duck, chicken, and roast pork) by the front window.

      2. It's not spare rib, it is chinese roast pork - aka char siu. If you google char siu, you'll get hits for lots of recipe links. Of course, as others have mentioned you can always buy it from asian markets if you're lucky enough to have them in your community.

        1 Reply
        1. re: janniecooks

          For char siu, I'd have to go to a specialist Chinese supermarket. Readily available there (usually in amongst the frozen dim sum) - but not in ordinary supermarkets.

        2. Trader Joe's used to carry a pre-cooked "Chinese Pork" that was a pretty good lazy chef substitute for char siu; I haven't seen it in the last few months at the one in Alexandria, but I've heard from folks in other cities that they still have it, so if enough of us keep asking for it, perhaps they'll start carrying it locally again.

          1. i usually buy a roast pork appetizer at a chinese restaurant if i need this

            1. Thanks for the tips. I imagined that because nearly everything can be found vacuum-sealed in asian markets, that this applied to ribs too.

              Guess I'll try the restaurant if need be. It goes against my primary motivation for cooking though, which is the gratification of feeling like a genius for making an $8 dish for $1.50, A $4-5 ingredient really F's that up. Also, investing that much time and effort into a secondary ingredient violates another unwritten principle.. that being, not investing too much time in the dish. If I can't make it for way cheaper, in comparable time and effort than it'd take to slug to the restaurant and buy it... then I'm just losing. Then its cooking for the novelty of it, and at worst, I'm enslaved by the dish and process itself. At this point, its about getting over on the restaurants.

              I'll take a look around though. If you can buy a vacuum-sealed cooked drumstick, you gotta be able to buy ribs.

              speaking of asian markets, for anyone interested, here is a near complete map of all the East & South asian groceries/markets in the DC metro area

              East Asian Groceries:
              (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, SE Asian -Thai/Viet/Malay/Philippine/Burmese/Indonesian/etc)

              South Asian/Middle Eastern:
              (Indian, Arab, Mediterranean Persian, Afghan/Paki, etc) http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Russel Shank

                Part of my joy in cooking, comes from making something better than the $8 dish.
                I did make char siu once long ago - followed a recipe from the Sunset Asian cookbook. It had to cook for about 2 hours and I was supposed to baste it every 20 minutes. It smelled better than anything had ever smelled in my life! I made it about an hour and a half and then I started sneaking bites - by the time it was done, I'd eaten half of it. That's the only time I've ever done that.
                So try it, you might like it!

              2. The recipe you speak of is probably something you make with leftovers. Doesn't take a genius to figure out anything that you can make at home is going to be way cheaper than eating it at a restaurant.

                It's the "cost of convenience"
                You have access to Asian markets which tells me you also have access to Asian take out places that specialize in things like char siu and bbq pork ribs. They're in business to make money, say $6.95/pound for char siu and $7.95/pound for ribs? I've seen pre-packaged char siu in Asian markets and the price is still around $6/pound. Never saw pre-packaged Chinese style ribs, probably no big market for it. Even packaged American BBQ ribs cost $15 for a rack of baby back ribs at Costco.

                Pork for char siu and ribs probably cost you $1.99/pound or less, but yes you have to make it which isn't hard or and the ingredients are dirt cheap.

                This is one of the best char siu recipes I've ever seen to make my own and is as good if not better than what they sell at those take-out places. Basically the cost is the cost of the pork which is less than $2/pound.

                2 Replies
                1. re: monku

                  Thanks for the recipe.

                  I was thinking of a Pad Thai recipe that uses tiny bits of char siu. I'd use so little (like 1 rib for 6-8 servings,) that all the time and money saved in cooking at home would be negated. I like to cook but I'm not on a foodie mission or anything. I mostly like to see how much cheaper I can cook it and if I can do it as well -- I have a long explanation for why its gotta meet these guidelines but I'll spare everyone. Basically, if it takes me twice as long, costs the same, and I have to go to THEM for part of it.... then I just PROVE that I am beholden to them. What a futile embarrassment my efforts are then.

                  1. re: Russel Shank

                    Understand your mission. Never had Pad Thai with pork ribs.
                    I'm the same way when it comes to making something better than I can get in a restaurant. After years of wondering why the chow mein at this dive place I go to tastes so good. I asked one day when the dish came out bland and the owner said they forgot to put in the soy sauce and sugar.