This Chinese-American dish is an excellent example of fusion cuisine. The original version dates back at least 30 years to cookbook author Irene Kuo, and it was re-publicized as a Genius Recipe on Food52 in an article by Andrea Nguyen. The name comes from the simple ratio of sherry or rice wine, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water which is put into a pot with the ribs.
The original recipe calls for a rack of ribs to be separated into individual ribs, and or each individual to be separated into 3 little pieces. This could be done by the butcher with a saw, or at home with a meat cleaver. (If using a meat cleaver, the suggestion is to use a paper towel to brush away any bone fragments.) I think this idea will work well with “Country Ribs” (i.e. boneless pieces of pork) cut into cubes, and I bought some from Kroger to try it out. Then I was at Grand Mart and saw little strips of ribs, which is what I actually used for this recipe. It turned out very well. I added one finely chopped jalapeno which I had on hand. I think it added to the complexity of the sauce, although I did not detect any chili heat from it.
1-1/2 lbs. ribs in little pieces
1 Tbs. dry sherry, sake, or rice wine
2 Tbs. dark soy sauce (such as the Chinese brand Pearl River Bridge. If using Kikkoman, use 4 tsp. soy and 2 tsp. molasses)
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
4 Tbs. sugar
5 Tbs. water
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
Put the ribs in a large pot in a single layer and then add all the other ingredients and stir well. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for about 40 minutes, until the ribs are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, turn up the heat and reduce the sauce. Last night, we served them American picnic style with potato salad and coleslaw, and we reduced the sauce to a glaze. If serving Chinese style over rice, you would want to reduce it a bit less to have a sauce for the rice.