The magic of five spice powder
For those of you unfamiliar with five spice powder, or ng hoeng fan in Cantonese, it is an umbrella for the popular Chinese blends of spices that usually consist of cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves, and peppers.
The number five doesn't necessarily literally mean that it has five ingredients as some blends use fewer spices and some blends use way more than five ingredients.
Five spice powder is actually a nod to the five traditional Chinese elements: earth, fire, water, wood, and metal. It's also a balancing act of the five traditional flavors of Chinese cuisine: salty, spicy, sour, sweet, and bitter.
How to select the perfect meat
You'll need to take a few things into consideration when buying meat for this recipe - the cut of meat and freshness.
There are cuts that have a lot of meat cut away. Some cuts have a lot of meat left on them. There are two types of spare ribs: some are narrower with thicker meat, some are wider with thinner meat. It's up to you what you like but for BBQ, Daddy Lau suggests that you get a wider cut.
When handling the meat, move it around a little. If it's not full of liquid, then it's fresh. If there's a lot of liquid, then it's been sitting out for a while.
Equipment you'll need
To make this, you’ll need a few things:
This is optional, but you might also want to use a meat thermometer that allows you to monitor the internal temperature of the pork as it’s cooking.
My dad literally chuckled at me when I asked him about this and said, “we don’t cook this way,” but since I haven’t yet acquired my dad’s intuition in the kitchen, I like to use these to whenever I cook big pieces of meat.