Chinese Braised Spare Ribs Recipe

The weather is cold and rainy here in Vancouver which makes me crave fatty, rich foods. I’m trying to cut back on such things and convinced myself that this recipe would be better than some others I was considering. Somehow, smaller pieces of food equate to healthy cooking (I know, I’m crazy) — ah well, it satisfied my craving even if I did eat a few more pieces than I should have.

I wish the photo had turned out better as I don’t think it does them justice. The photo looks like a pile of brown poo (but, I swear they are delicious *and* easy to make).

My craving stems from a sticky rib recipe that I made a few months ago but never posted. And, as per usual, I lost track of the recipe during our move. I remember finding a few that I liked online and in my cookbooks but none of them looked familiar this time. I think I made a hybrid recipe before (handwritten on a scrap of paper now in a recycling facility somewhere) so figured I’d give it a go this time as well. I scribbled down my ingredient list and headed out shopping.

My shopping was moving along quickly until the metric system decided to challenge me at the meat counter. The odd thing is, I’ve been to a number of grocery stores lately and each one seems to vary in how they weigh their meat. Some do Pounds while others do Grams — and some like to totally mess with me by doing pre-packaged meat in Grams while doing the meat counter in Pounds. I’m learning through immersion (and the help of my iPhone metric conversion app) to figure out how to buy items by weight. I’ll be a better person for it. :-)

I purchased 1 kg (~2lbs) package of pork spare ribs that were ‘sweet and sour cut’. This means that they were cut lengthwise to create a strip of ribs about 2″ wide. In the states, I found them listed as ‘Chinese-style ribs’. Of course, you can always purchase your own spare ribs and whack away to achieve the desired smaller size. Or, you can say ‘screw it’ and leave the spare ribs full-size (but based on my logic, this would not be as healthy).

The recipe is easy to make and results in tender sticky ribs that go perfectly with steamed rice and a green veggie of your choice. I served them with blanched Gai Lan, a variety of Chinese broccoli.

Chinese Braised Ribs

2lbs Pork Spare Ribs cut in 1″ x 2″ pieces
2 tablespoons canola or other light oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce (or just regular soy sauce)
1 1/4 cup white wine (or rice wine)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
2 Tablespoons golden syrup (or honey)

If the spare ribs are still connected in a long strip, use a knife to slice between each bone. The result should be small rib sections that are approximately 1″ by 2″.

Heat a large pan or dutch oven with oil. Add ribs and brown on all sides, about 3-5 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Check periodically to make sure their is enough moisture and add a bit of water if it becomes dry (but it shouldn’t).

Remove cover and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced to a thick, sticky glaze (about 10-15 minutes). If your ribs are very fatty, you may wish to skim off some of the excess fat during this last 15 minutes. I was able to easily skim off about a 1/2 cup of fat — wow!

Remember to keep an eye on it as the liquid reduces so that it doesn’t burn. Stir every couple of minutes. In the last few minutes, the reduction happens very quickly so don’t walk away from the stove. It’s that simple.

In honor of my Australian friends, I used a bit of golden syrup as my sweetener. The syrup is not common in the states and I had to seek out an Australian products store in order to buy it (I used it to make ANZAC Biscuits). It is so delicious — I literally love to eat it with a spoon! It’s thick and has a deep richness, but not as strong as say molasses. I love my little jar of golden syrup so much that I packed it up and moved it to Vancouver. Fortunately, golden syrup is common here in Canada so I will have a bountiful supply.

Anyway, I digress — back to the ribs! The braised ribs turn out tender and slightly sweet with an undertone of the salty caramelized soy sauce. The garlic and ginger round out the flavor making it difficult to eat a reasonably sized portion.

The recipe is pretty good but it’s not *great* — I think my other recipe may have used a bit of hoisin sauce. I’ll have to keep experimenting and see if I can figure it out :-)

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  1. Last I checked, smaller pieces of food does equate to healthy eating! I think the photos turned out just fine, best looking brown poo I have ever seen.
    Recipe seems easy enough, I am going to try this as soon as I see rips for sale.

  2. Brown pile of poo or not. The ribs look great. Can you imagine the pain you would have gone through to figure out metrics if you didn’t have an iPhone?

  3. We’re having ribs tonight, too, but in a salsa verde. I love asian ribs and these look delicious regardless of what you think your photo looks like. Nice combo of flavors in them. Thanks for the info on golden syrup. I’ve seen it in recipes before and had no idea…

  4. With all the rain we’re getting in Comox Valley I only feel like baking. I can’t wait to get some sunshine. Love your ribs, they turned out really well.

  5. Allen, do NOT eat golden syrup with a spoon. (I’m thinking of something else Australian to eat with a spoon…) So much for health-consciousness, lol. But I don’t care when it comes to sweet, salty, spicy ribs! One of my guiltiest pleasures. Sticky is the best kind of delicious (mind out of gutter), because you just know there’s all sorts of gooey caramels in there.
    Hah! I process in both metric and imperial, no thanks to you guys ;) (No iPhone too! :P) My biggest beef with imperial is when the scale shows a decimal like 1.4. Do they mean 1.4 pounds or 1 pound 4 ounces? See, it’s just silly. Go metric!

  6. Sticky ribs sound pretty darn good to me! Congrats on your move! Glad you’re all settled, and I look forward to hearing about your explorations in the new locale.

  7. Don’t worry, some foods are just tricky to photograph…but you did well! I can believe that these ribs were delicious!!!

  8. I think these look fantastic & I’m so going to make them, even have some golden syrup in the cupboard.

  9. I had to do a double take when I saw the Golden Syrup bottle Allen! LOL! This is a delicious sticky meal….enjoyed with your fingers of course!

  10. These look scrumptuous!! They remind me of the Spareribs Hawaiian that my mom used to make when I was a kid. Will have to try this.

    BTW, now that you are in Vancouver, you’ll have to try poutin and tell me how it is. :)

  11. Thanks everyone!

    Cory — Amen! I’d be lost without my iPhone :-)

    Helene: Hopefully you’re getting some of the sun we’re getting today — it’s beautiful outside!

    Jaden: Would definitely be good on chicken too! You’d want to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe though or else you’d drown your chicken :-)

    Peter G: Haha — glad I could surprise you!

    Clare: Oh, poutine! I’ll have to give you the scoop on it — it’s all about having good gravy.

  12. Whoah, hello there, brown pile of GOODNESS and DELICIOUSNESS! This is the kind of thing I wouldn’t mind getting my hands dirty for.

  13. The ribs look great– I love Asian style ribs and haven’t had them in an age… but I really want to comment on the golden syrup. I buy golden syrup too but Lyle’s brand from the UK. Mine is a beautiful golden color with a carmelly taste and looks completely different than your Australian variety.

  14. I tried these ribs yesterday following the ingredients listed and not my instincts – they were awful as I think the ingredients shown are wrong. I put 1/2 cup of soy sauce [as listed] when I think it should have been tomato sauce or some other sauce but DEFINITELY not that much soy. So we were extremely disappointed especially after reading so many great comments!!!!!

  15. I have had Asian style ribs that were very red in color and were really sweet and gooie. I know that they use red food coloring to get the right color. I know that they also use oster sauce, katsup, garlic, honey, and 5 spice. I have tried several times to make them but they just don’t come out like I remember. Can someone help me find a recipy? I have spent hours looking but can’t seem to find what I am looking for…HELP
    Thank you,

  16. Thank you so much for this recipe!! I’m not a very experienced cook, but the simplicity of this recipe encouraged me to try it and I was not disappointed one bit!! My boyfriend loved them and we’ve already made them twice. They are perfectly sweet and gooey….finger-licking good! Keep up the good work. Your blog has inspired me to try new and interesting recipes. Thanks again!

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