I’m not a coffee addict. I have only seven cups a day . . . .

Just kidding, folks. I have three, max; most days I have two. I always have one first thing in the morning, sometimes with a couple of cream crackers for dunking. On days when I’m a good girl, that’s the only coffee I’d have.

My favourite coffees are macchiato (espresso with a dollop of steamed milk) and romano (espresso with lemon zest) when I want ‘proper’ coffee. I also like latte, for washing down cookies or cake, but that’s more like coffee-flavoured milk rather than coffee. Whatever coffee it is, it’s always without sugar.

I love food that’s slightly bitter, from bitter gourd to bitter chocolate, and anything made with coffee such as coffee cheesecake and coffee candy. Pork ribs deep-fried and coated with coffee? Yeah, baby, yeah!

Like a lot of people, I’ve got quite a jaded palette. So I’m always on the lookout off the (culinary) beaten path, hoping to find something exciting. That’s why I love the taste of coffee in a savory meat dish. It’s unusual, something that makes me go, “Hmm? Hmm . . . . Mmm . . . . MMMMM . . . !”

Making coffee pork ribs isn’t difficult. The only tricky part is deep-frying the ribs so that the batter is crisp but the meat is still juicy. But it’s nothing that can’t be nailed after practising a few times. The other crucial part is the sauce and for this, I use a recipe from All About Pork Ribs. It’s made with a mix of instant coffee powder, Worcestershire sauce, maltose and sugar. I’m sure that’s not how it’s done by Sam Leong, the chef who reportedly invented Singapore style coffee pork ribs. But I like it ’cause it has the right hint of coffee, and it’s a doddle without any unusual ingredients.

I should have copied Sam Leong’s presentation though. The famous chef leaves the ribs long, and serves them in a coffee mug. Cute, isn’t it? Definitely a off-the-beaten-path look that goes with the off-the-beaten-path taste.

Note to self: must remember this presentation before hacking up the ribs!


(Recipe for 4 persons)

500 g pork prime ribs, chopped about 3 cm long
1 egg
1½ tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp white sesame oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
3½ tbsp water

3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp potato flour
vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 tbsp maltose
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp instant coffee powder
3 tbsp water

Wash and dry ribs. Beat marinade ingredients till well combined. Massage ribs with marinade. Marinate for 2 hours, stirring once mid-way.

Mix potato flour and plain flour. Give ribs and marinade a thorough stir. Transfer ribs (minus excess marinade) to flour mixture. Toss till ribs are well coated. Deep-fry in moderately hot oil over medium heat till just cooked and lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Drain. Reheat oil till just smoking. Refry ribs till golden brown. Drain again. Heat sauce ingredients till thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add ribs. Toss till well coated. Serve.

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