As handy, dandy Wikiepedia tells us:
A Pu Pu platter, Pu-Pu platter or pupu platter is a tray of American Chinese cuisine consisting of an assortment of small meat and seafood appetizers. A typical pupu platter, as found in American Chinese cuisine, might include an egg roll, spare ribs, chicken wings, chicken fingers, beef teriyaki, skewered beef, fried wontons, crab rangoon, fried shrimp, among other items, accompanied by a small hibachi grill.
Since the introduction of commercial dining and drinking establishments in Hawaii, pūpū were, and remain, standard fare in island establishments. An establishment that serves “heavy pupus” will often have a buffet table with warming trays full of chicken, tempura vegetables, shrimp, poke (cubed and seasoned raw fish), small skewers of teriyaki meat or chicken, sushi, and other similar finger foods. An establishment that serves “light pupus” usually will offer only the cold foods such as poke, sushi, and vegetables. Some establishments will serve pūpū to the table.
The term “pupu platter” appears to be a mid-20th century introduction to the American Chinese culinary lexicon, though the concept of serving pūpū appears to have spread to North America from Hawai`i via such entrepreneurs as Don the Beachcomber, Jacob Adams, and Trader Vic during the craze for “Polynesian-style” food of the 1940s and 1950s. The “pupu platter” of that time was actually based largely on Cantonese cuisine as interpreted by American bar owners who catered to the American taste for exotic Polynesian/Asian dishes.During this period, most Chinese restaurants in the United States were Cantonese-operated. Such restaurants catered to the more conservative American public while still providing a taste of the exotic, and may have provided a “pupu platter,” though not necessarily by that name. It is also commonly known as a BoBo Platter.
So even though the pupu platter and the ribs aren’t authentic Chinese food, as part of our Chinese New Year’s celebrations to bring in the Year of the Water Snake on February 10th,
Inspired by a recipe for Asian Pork Ribs with Spicy Noodles in a little Chinese Favorites magazine I have, as well as this yummy recipe for homemade hoisin sauce, I baked up these yummy ribs for us.
While these are not like the Asian-style ribs one typically finds in an American Chinese restaurant, they definitely impart a yummy Asian flavor.
So while we didn’t have a feast like the one described below, nor did we do a Lion Dance (maybe next year?), our little feast of Baked Crab Rangoon, Asian-Style Pork Ribs, stir-fried vegetables, and beef-seasoned Ramen noodles was festive, affordable (I’d gotten the ribs on sale!), and most definitely yummy!
Asian-Style Pork Ribs (Number of servings depends upon quantity of ribs and the size of the appetites you’re feeding! Recipe is for one rack of ribs, but it is easy to make more!)
- One rack (3 to 4 pounds) baby back pork ribs
- Rice wine vinegar
- Seasonings to taste: Chinese five-spice powder, ground ginger, chili powder, cayenne (red) pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder
- Homemade Hoison Sauce (see below)
- Line a baking pan with aluminum foil (this makes clean-up easier). Place cooking/baking rack in pan. (I can usually only fit one rack of ribs to a pan, so if you’re making more than one rack of ribs, you’ll need more than one pan! 😉 )
- Remove rack(s) of ribs from packaging. Cut as necessary to fit the rack and pan you have and place them, in a single layer, meaty-side up on the rack.
- Sprinkle meat lightly with vinegar. (Vinegar is acidic and will help tenderize the ribs.)
- Season meat to taste by sprinkling on desired seasonings: Chinese five-spice powder, ground ginger, chili powder, cayenne (red) pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Cover with foil and bake at 300F for 2 to 3 hours, until tender and almost fully cooked.
- Uncover ribs (if covered with foil) and brush with hoisin sauce. Bake, uncovered, at 325F – 350F until fully cooked — about 30 to 45 more minutes.
They taste as yummy as they smell. 🙂 Refrigerate leftovers. Leftovers are awesome brushed with a bit more hoisin sauce and gently re-heated in the oven.
Homemade Hoisin Sauce (Makes 3/4 cup; easy to adjust up and down)
- 4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely minced (or garlic powder to taste)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Chinese hot sauce, such as Tiger Sauce or Sriracha (use more or less to taste — I used a couple of teaspoons)
- Dash coarse ground black pepper
- In a small container, whisk all ingredients together. HINT: To make measuring the peanut butter and molasses easy, first lightly spray your measuring spoon with cooking spray.
- Keep refrigerated.