Chicken Ribs

Is there such a thing as “chicken rib”? The first thing that came to my mind is – “not possible!”, “really??”. A chicken is a small bird. Its rib cage is small. So how is it possible to serve chicken ribs? I imagine it is a wing. But, why call a rib? Certainly, a wing is different from a rib. Like everything else, I google search to find my answer. A chicken rib is not really a “chicken rib”, but it is part of the scapula meat, or a shoulder meat of the chicken.

Back to how I came across “chicken rib”. I was taking my brother and his family out for a dinner to celebrate his birthday a couple of weeks ago. I pre-ordered the dishes as a surprise for him. In the menu, there was a Deep Fried Chicken Ribs in Spicy Pepper Salt. It sounds delicious. I am a real fan of spicy pepper salt, whether it is king prawn or calamari at a Chinese restaurant. But, “chicken ribs” is a first for me, and for everyone else at the table. It was delicious. Tasty and succulent, and meaty. It was easy to grip and eat. The bone was flat 2 – 3 inches long with a narrow bend.

This morning, my partner and I met up with a couple of good friends, including a couple visiting from Tasmania for breakfast at St Ali in South Melbourne. This is one of my favourite cafe in Melbourne. It has interesting menu, groovy and eclectic. The service is friendly. The food is great and the coffee is one of the best in town, except I don’t drink coffee. But they do make good mixed fresh juices. There is no reservation. There is always a crowd waiting outside for a table. This morning we arranged to meet at 10 am, so it should be easier to get a table. Our friends arrived first. There was 4 of them. It was lovely to catch up with all of them.

After breakfast, my partner and I walked to South Melbourne Market with our very new black insulated grocery trolley. It is fashionable in South Melbourne to wheel along the grocery trolley. I was “trolley-ing” along with my grocery. That was when I came across a butcher selling fresh “chicken ribs”. This was the first time I have seen chicken ribs at one of the butcher stall inside the market. I was excited! Very excited. I asked for a half kilo of the ribs. It was slightly over, and cost me $4. I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with the ribs at the time. That is just me. I never knew what I was going to cook until I stand in front of my kitchen.

The chicken ribs came with skin on. That was how I like it.

When I got home, I sorted my grocery and put them away. I spent $10 for a 3 kg bag of navel oranges (for my daily breakfast freshly squeezed OJ), 3 pears, a bunch of banana, $4 for the chicken ribs, $10 for a bag of organic dry roasted unsalted almond. I had other ingredients at home. I still have not decided what I am going to cook with the chicken ribs yet.

An hour later after reading the newspaper, I decided to marinate the chicken ribs with a sprinkle of salt, some white pepper, caramalised soy sauce and a sprinkle of meat curry powder. Don’t ask me how much portion I used on each of the ingredients to marinate the chicken. I never measure the portion. Always based on “agak agak” ie estimation.

Then, with both hands massage through the ingredients into the chicken ribs and leave in the fridge for a few hours to absorb all the flavours.

It was only after I have marinated the chicken ribs that I have decided how I want to cook them. It will be pan fried and braised in tamarind juice. I have also decided on a second dish with snap peas that I have inside my fridge’s crisp compartment.

Ingredients for both dishes tonight:

Chicken Ribs in Tamarind Juice

Marinate chicken ribs for 2 – 3 hours

1 fresh red chili Ā thinly sliced

1 inch fresh ginger thinly sliced

1 spring curry leaves removed from stem

1/2 red onion thinly sliced

1 pulp wet tamarind presoaked in 2 cups of cold water

3 tomatoes cut into quarters

Cooking – Chicken Ribs with Tamarind Juice

1. Heat a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

2. Toss in marinated chicken ribs. Pan fry until chicken ribs are golden brown.

3. Toss in remaining ingredients – curry leaves, chilies and red onions. Mix through with the chicken ribs. Continue to pan fry for several minutes.

4. Add tamarind juice. Turn up the heat until boiling, then reduce heat to simmering level. Continue simmering, then add tomatoes. Continue simmering until almost dry and chicken ribs are caramalised.

While my chicken ribs were cooking away, I started the other dish – Snap Pea with “Lap Cheong” – ie Chinese sausage.

Stir Fry Snap Pea with Lap Cheong


2 lap cheong thinly sliced diagonally

1 bowl of snap peas

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

Cooking – Stir Fry Snap Peas with Lap Cheong

1. Heat up a small saucepan. Toss in sliced lap cheong. Stir fry until the fat is released from the lap cheong.

2. Add chopped garlic. Continue to stir fry until both lap cheong and garlic are fragrant.

3. Toss in snap peas. Add a dash of light soy sauce. Toss the snap peas and mix through with the other ingredients.

Serve both dishes with a bowl of steamed rice. Hope you enjoy this simple recipes.

If you have not try “chicken ribs” yet, you should! In my opinion, it is better than chicken wings. More meat and easier to eat with a single flat thin bone. I hope it is not going to get too expensive if and when it becomes fashionable with more chefs sourcing them for their restaurants!

If you don’t believe me, study the bones on the plate below. It is definitely not a wing, and not a rib. But, a scapula of the chicken bone.

One response to “Chicken Ribs

  1. Both dishes look great, but I really love the simplicity of the snap pea with sausage. Must try both, though šŸ™‚

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