Better-than-takeout Chinese Spare Ribs
Okay. You’ve mastered Kansas City-style BBQ ribs (you have, haven’t you? If not, see the post immediately preceding this). We didn’t address the famous KC “burnt ends,” but that’s for another day.
Now I will present to you the easiest, tastiest Chinese-style spare ribs, that you can prepare at home. Because let’s face it. Chinese-style spare ribs are one of your (and definitely my) most favoritist guilty pleasures. I simply can’t go very long without a batch of these babies. Even the strip-mall place makes ribs to die for, but you’ve to go get them (OK, I’ll grant that GrubHub and UberEats have changed the calculus. But still, they will come to you in a foil-lined bag that’s just a bit soggy and the ribs have been steaming and are resting in a pool of saucy grease).
Here is the way to have the best-of-the-best Chinese-style ribs at home–in your pajamas if you wish–without having to tip the delivery guy or gal–and lick your fingers in private, so that you get every single wonderful drop. And you don’t have to share.
So, here we go…
Better-than-takeout Chinese-style spare ribs
½ cup Hoisin sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey, plus 1 teaspoon for finish
1 tablespoon Chinese Five-spice powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 racks spare ribs, St. Louis style—this is a MUST! Ask at the meat department counter.
A few drops of red food coloring (only if you insist. The restaurants do it to make the dish more visually appealing and authentic-looking, but really?
- In a non-reactive bowl, mix together the Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, five-spice, garlic, and ginger. Pour into a large zip-close plastic bag, reserving ½ cup for basting.
- Add the ribs to the bag, close and toss to coat all the pieces as best as possible. Refrigerate for at least three hours, turning occasionally—longer is better, and overnight is best.
- Heat a charcoal (best) or gas (OK) grill to 275º F (low heat is a must!), set up for indirect grilling.
- Remove the ribs from the marinade (discard the marinade) and place on a wire rack. Place the rack onto the grill AWAY FROM THE DIRECT HEAT. Close the grill cover and cook, basting with the reserved marinade every half hour, until the meat is fork tender, 2-3 hours. You should be able to stick a fork into a meaty rib and pull it out without the rib being lifted off the grill.
- Mix the honey into the remaining basting sauce, brush onto the cooked ribs, move them over the direct heat and cook, turning frequently, until they begin to char and the sauce begins to caramelize (don’t let them burn). Editor’s note: you can make these in the oven if you don’t have or want to grill. Wrap the ribs in foil and cook at the same temperature (basting every half hour) until they are fork tender, then broil until they begin to caramelize.