Chinese style pork spare ribs are an old favourite on the menu when you’re out at a Chinese restaurant, but it’s really very easy to recreate those authentic, sticky, flavours at home too.
When buying the ribs it’s worth remembering that as this recipe is a slow one, they do tend to shrink down quite a bit, and since you’re just nibbling the meat off the bones, what seems like a large amount always ends up being just about right!
Also make sure the pork is the best quality, from pigs that are bred outdoors, fed on a natural cereal based diet and who’ve generally led a good piggy life.
If you have time, it’s a good idea to place the ribs in a large roasting pan with all the spices and flavourings for a couple of hours ahead of cooking. Cover the pan with foil and allow the ribs to marinade for an hour or so, to intensify the flavour and tenderise the meat.
- To serve - 4 - 6 people depending how hungry/greedy you are!
- 1 -2 racks of higher-welfare pork ribs (1.5 -2 kg)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, coconut or ghee
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons Chinese five-spice
- 2 bunches spring onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 fresh chillies
- 3 star anise
- 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons runny honey
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 100 ml water
- Place the ribs in a large pan and sprinkle on the spices and flavourings, turn them a couple of times in their nice bath of fragrant juices. Cover them tightly with a double layer of foil and allow them to marinade for a couple of hours if possible.
- Then put the pan in the oven for at least 3 hours on low 160 C (if you're in the kitchen, you can turn them over half way through - although this isn't vitally important!)
- Remove the ribs, cover with the foil and leave to stand in the warm oven..
- Transfer all the juices into a smaller saucepan, and reduce them down on the hob. Taste the sauce and tweak if necessary ( adding a little honey, salt or water)
- Pour the sticky sauce over the ribs and serve.
Then put the foil covered pan in the oven, for at least 3 hours on low /160C – during this time the ribs slowly steam in the spicy juices which makes the meat wonderfully tender. 20 minutes before you want to serve dinner, remove the ribs and cover while you reduce the pan juices on top of the stove, to serve over the ribs as the sticky sauce.
Of course spare ribs are a must at summer barbecues, so the slow cooking part can be done advance in the oven, and then they can be browned on the barbecue for 10 mins before serving. They are just perfect when served with a baked potato and some homemade crunchy coleslaw!