Add pork ribs to a large pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then turn to medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes while skimming the foam off the top with a spoon.
Add the ginger, green onion, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, and cooking wine. Turn to low heat. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Add the red fermented bean curd into a small bowl and add a few spoonfuls of hot broth from the pot. Smash with the back of a spoon until the bean curd dissolves. Pour back into the pot. Simmer uncovered for another 40 to 50 minutes, until pork turns tender but is not quite falling of the bone.
(Optional) Add the vegetables. Continue simmering for 15 minutes, until the vegetables turn tender.
Add cornstarch and 1/3 cup water into a small bowl. Whisk well until the cornstarch dissolves completely. Slowly add half of the slurry into the pot. Stir to mix well. Add more slurry and stir if you want to thicken the sauce more. Note, you might not need to add all the cornstarch slurry. (*Footnote 2)
Serve pork ribs with steamed white rice or noodles. Enjoy!
Store the pork ribs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Contrary to the common practice of selecting meaty ribs, Chinese cooking prefers smaller ribs with thin layers of meat, so the meat will be more flavorful. When you purchase the ribs, ask the butcher to saw the ribs crosswise into two shorter slabs. Then you can cut them into one-bone sections at home. Cutting the ribs into shorter sections makes serving easier and the meat more flavorful.
Alternatively, you can transfer the pork and vegetables into a large bowl. Then reduce the sauce by turning to medium high heat for 15 to 30 minutes, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.