My Chinese take-out.

What do you do when you don’t have a grill but the best meat at your favorite local meat producer is the spareribs? Do you cry, lamenting your bad decision to live in an apartment where you don’t have a backyard and grill-space? Do you opt for the much-more-expensive and getting-down-right-old (but otherwise delicious) pork tenderloin that you get all the time? Do you run out of the little farm-store, spear-in-hand, straight for the cows chewing peacefully in their pastures, intent on making a kill just so you can get that sought-after and never available rib-eye steak that would be so perfectly done in the oven? No, no. Don’t be silly. It would take them at least two-weeks to dry age that steak—just take the spareribs.

I did take the spareribs and I have to admit I was pretty bummed over not having a grill until I found this recipe for Chinese Spareribs in the River Cottage Meat Book (thanks Anita for leading me to this wonderful book!) Truthfully, even after I found the recipe, I tossed and turned over making it instead of barbecued ribs. I thought about whose house with a grill I could invite myself to, I thought about making them in the oven. I was upset.

And then, as things usually go, Jim told me I was being crazy and took me out to buy the ingredients for Chinese Spareribs—he’s such a good decision-maker. And a lucky one, too, because these ribs turned out to be the most succulent, fragrant, falling-off the bone, reminiscent of but waaay better than Chinese take-out ribs. All of the ingredients, which seemed too strong when I first put them in the pot, fused together to create the flavor that everyone tries to get when making Chinese food at home. The recipe’s a keeper. The kind of recipe that you use at dinner parties for bosses when you want to get a raise or for a first date when you want to be fallen in love with or at home with your boyfriend when you want to say thank you for putting up with your crappy moods for the past six months: The best kind of recipe.

Chinese-Style Spareribs

adapted from The River Cottage Meat Book

  • 3 pounds spareribs, preferably organic grass-fed
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 8 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 10 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 10 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 1 cup pineapple juice, preferably fresh

Cut spareribs into peices about 2-4 ribs wide. Heat oil in a large pot. Fry spareribs until browned on all sides. Add ginger and garlic and fry until they release their aromas. Add in soy sauces, sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice , and enough water to barely cover ribs. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and not letting the liquid get too low.

Remove spareribs from pot. Let the liquid simmer away until it makes a rich, syrupy broth. Put the spareribs back in the pot to re-warm them. Serve with slices of radish or spring onion.

19 thoughts on “My Chinese take-out.”

  1. Ribs of all kinds were just made for a slow cooker (okay, maybe it’s the other way around). And whether it’s done your way on the stove top or in the slow cooker, we have one huge advantage… which is a tenderness the grill can never produce. Your ribs look succulent as all get-out!

  2. These just look to good. I’m going to make them as soon as I get my hands on some fine ribs and have enough time to produce this. This will be one hell of a weekend!

  3. You know I sympathize about being grill-less. But these are just incredible Robin. Perfection.

    And also, this jumped out at me:

    Do you opt for the much-more-expensive and getting-down-right-old (but otherwise delicious) pork tenderloin

    Not the same reason as your repetition, but when I first was learning how to cook, pre-blog days, I made pork tenderloin and pork loin soooo much because I was so stoked I could make it right. Hello thermometer. šŸ˜› But jeebus, we got so sick of it.

  4. My husband made some Asian inspired ribs a few months ago and they were definitely amazing, and I’m a pretty big fan of the traditional BBQ rib. We did ours in the slowcooker and then finished them off under the broiler, because we too are living urban (Chicago) without grill.

  5. I agree, it would be very difficult for me not to make BBQ ribs. I think it comes with being an American…BBQ is just darn delicious (especially with a grill). But hey, I’m open to new things and these certainly sound delicious!

  6. What a great post. These look scrumptious, and not what everyone is making in thier home kitchen these days. Thanks so much for the post!

  7. Glad you didn’t let the meat, or your lack of a grill get the better of you! Spareribs are never the first thing I’d pick up at the market, and I do have a grill. You pushed yourself and perhaps I should too. I’m sure these tasted as pretty as they look – nice photos.

  8. Melissa: I actually found a recipe for pork tenderloin that has me itching to try it… guess I’ll be having it again!!

    TS: aren’t those always the best meals?!

    Lore: Now that is a serious compliment! Thank you!

    And thank you everyone for writing in… I LOVE LOVE LOVE the comments!

  9. I have done ribs both on the grill and in the oven and I struggle to find which one suits me best. Your recipe is terrific- slow moist heat is a spareribs best friend, and what a sauce combination!

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