Sweet and sour spare ribs

 Preparation: 20 minutes | Cook: 1 hours 10 minutes      11 ingredients      family-style  March 7, 2020  Jump to Recipe  Print Recipe

This famous, authentic Chinese dish, known as 糖醋小排, is literally translated into sugary & vinegary small ribs. But that would make very little sense in English, thus “sweet and sour spareribs” becomes the closest rendition. But vì chưng not confuse this dish with sweet và sour pork (甜酸肉或古老肉), which is another Chinese dish with a similar English name that I will chia sẻ in a few weeks. The latter is the one that you are probably most familiar with due to its popularity in American Chinese restaurants.

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The key to lớn this dish, sweet and sour spareribs, lies with the balance of the various condiments and of course the main ingredient, spare or baby back ribs.

I normally use the horizontally cut pork spareribs or baby back ribs, which are basically spare or baby back ribs cut across the bone. You over up with a long strip of ribs that is around 1.5 inches wide. I’ve seen this type of sparerib cut in most Asian grocery stores. Nonetheless, I was really happy to lớn see Costco và H-E-B carrying the cut as well. At Costco, it’s called “St. Louis Pork Spare Rib Portions” & at H-E-B, it’s called “Pork Cross Cut Spare Ribs” and “Pork Cross Cut Baby Back Ribs.” This type of cut makes the ribs both easy to handle & easy khổng lồ eat. The meat between the bones is quite special. It’s full of connective tissues which makes it soft và tender. The extra fat helps the ribs absorb more flavors và also makes the meat more succulent.

The ratio between sugar và vinegar generally determines theresulting flavor. I like to use 1 lớn 1 weight ratio but I definitely have seenother versions of this dish using slightly different ratios. In general, it isquite safe with the 1 lớn 1 weight ratio. If you don’t have rock sugar andChinese black vinegar handy, use the substitutes mentioned in the ingredientsection. They can produce quite good results as well.

The sweet & sour spareribs originated from one of the Southern provinces in China. And it has spread khổng lồ other parts of đài loan trung quốc and thus each region differs somewhat in terms of flavors & cooking techniques. Some require marinating the ribs first, while some require frying the ribs.

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In my recipe, I first blanch the rib pieces, then cook them in rock sugar caramel. Finally, I slowly braise them in a flavor infused sauce. The resulting sparerib pieces have a deep burgundy color with a shiny glisten. The meat is so soft that it easily slides off the bones. When biting into the meat, your tongue will first fill with juice that is sweet, nutty, & slightly tart, while your teeth sink into the aroma infused heavenly rib meat.

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1.5 hours

Serving: 4-6 peoplefamily style


1.5 pounds horizontally cut spareribs or baby back ribs12 tablespoons vegetable oil60 g rock sugar (can be substituted with 3 tablespoons trắng sugar)260 g Chinese vinegar (can be substituted with 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar)2Some hot water (about 1-2 cups depending on your pot)1 teaspoon dark soy sauce3 (can be substituted with ¼ teaspoon light soy sauce and ½ teaspoon molasses)1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing Cooking wine (can be substituted with 1 tablespoon dry white wine, saki, or rice wine)1 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon roasted trắng sesame seeds



Cut the spareribs or baby back ribs into individual pieces (since the ribs are in a long string, there are clear parts where the bones are; make sure to cut the ribs along the meat part). Rinse the rib pieces in cold water a few times to lớn remove visible blood.
Measure the right amount of rock sugar (60g) và vinegar (60g) separately (alternatively, use substitutes mentioned above).2 Use a cleaver or meat pounder khổng lồ break the rock sugar into small pieces.


Fill a medium saucepan or pot half way with water and set the heat khổng lồ medium-high. When small bubbles start appearing from the bottom of the heated pot, showroom the rib pieces and blanch them for a few minutes until the scum begin to khung on the water surface. Then take the rib pieces out of the pan và clean them thoroughly under running water. Use a kitchen towel khổng lồ thoroughly dry the rib pieces. (The main purpose of this step is khổng lồ further remove impurities and blood from the rib pieces. You don’t need khổng lồ wait until the water is boiling before adding the ribs. Also, vày not blanch the rib pieces for too long as the meat can become too hard. Take them out when you see scum floating on top).