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Those sticky, overcooked, red ribs from Chinese buffets are usually too tough or too sweet to be anything but disappointing. It’s a shame, because when you taste Cantonese BBQ spareribs done well—honey-glazed, browned, and sizzling—they’re unforgettable.
The solution: Using your oven to slow-roast the ribs at home. Don’t worry. Cooking them isn’t that much harder than ordering delivery.
“Barbecue ribs are common in Cantonese cooking,” says Ken Hom, author of Complete Chinese Cookbook. “If you roast the ribs really slowly, they get really tender. You’ll become addicted.”
Cantonese ribs derive their unique flavour from hoisin sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic. Hom’s overnight marinade sends five-spice flavour to the bones. Yes, the two-hour roast is probably longer than the delivery guy would take, but the recipe is simple. You’ll spend a few minutes making the marinade, and for the rest of the time you can pretty much sit on the couch.
That makes this recipe a winner for friends. You can catch the first half of the game while the ribs cook. Crack a beer. Enjoy the party. Then eat well.
Cantonese BBQ Spareribs
Recipe adapted from Ken Hom
What you’ll need:
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
1 Tbsp Chinese five spice (available at Pick ‘N Pay)
1½ Tbsp chili bean sauce (or 1 Tbsp bean sauce mixed with 1/2 Tbsp Sriracha)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1.5kgs pork spareribs
3 Tbsp honey
How to make it:
1. In a medium bowl, mix the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, five spice, chili bean sauce, sesame oil, salt, sugar, and hoisin sauce.
2. Spoon the marinade over the spareribs, making sure the ribs are coated underneath and on both sides. Cover the ribs and let them marinate in the fridge overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and brush them with honey on all sides. Cook the ribs until tender (a fork should be able to slide in between the bones with little effort), about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Raise the heat to 450°F and cook until the ribs brown on top, about 10 minutes. Serves 3 to 4.