Of the medley of meats savored across the world, spareribs may be among the most inexpensive cut—but when slow cooked, they give a flavor that’s rich and a texture that’s heavenly.
Southern-style spareribs are held up as a scrumptious staple of family barbecues in America. And though different recipes abound—as do Southern matriarchs compelled by tradition not to divulge them—racks of ribs are usually cooked on a grill, or over an open fire. They are served as a slab with sauce, often in the company of corn on the cob or other starchy sides like potato purée.
Just as jealously guarded in Cantonese cuisine of southern China, a typical recipe for spareribs calls for cooking in the “char siu” barbecue style, which gives that characteristic glazed red veneer to the meat as it is roasted in a sweet and savory sauce.
Earlier this week, I stepped into Uncle Ted’s Modern Chinese Cuisine in Greenwich Village, and learned executive chef Ming Wong’s barbecue spareribs recipe.
Wong is from Hong Kong and is in his early 60s. With a pair of round-framed
glasses over his deep-set eyes, Wong looks like a European gentleman from the 1800s.
“Apple sauce is the magic ingredient in this recipe,” he said.
After we finished cooking the ribs, I contemplated for five seconds how to eat them with chopsticks. Then I was thought: “Forget it.” The best way to eat them is the most primitive one: use your bare hands.
I bit into a succulent piece of rib. The texture was juicy and tender, and it was at once smoky with many layers of sweet flavors. I must agree with Wong that the apple sauce really made a huge difference. This isn’t your average Chinese barbecue spareribs!
Now what’s a girl to do but share such treasure with her readers!
Chinese ‘Char Siu’ Spareribs à la Mode
Makes 4 servings
Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
1/2 rack St. Louis-style spareribs, cut into individual ribs, about 2 pounds
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup ground bean sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 450F degrees.
Combine the char siu (barbecue sauce), ketchup, ground bean sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, salt, and sugar. Stir for 10 minutes until the sauce is thoroughly mixed.
Line a roasting pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, lay the spare ribs on the foil, and brush the sauce on both sides of the ribs.
Transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Heat one side of the ribs for 45 minutes, then flip the ribs and heat for another 45 minutes until well done.
You can find char sui and ground bean sauce at a Chinese grocery store.