Recipe for Andy: Chinese Style Barbecued Spareribs

Andy requested this recipe because he wants to make it himself on a barbecue.  This popular (and, by the way,  delicious) recipe for Chinese Style Barbecued Spareribs from disappears every time it’s made. Sticky and salty-sweet, there are no leftovers, and if there are, they don’t last long! The spareribs taste best when they have marinated for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, in a plastic bag.

Let’s talk about soy sauce. It’s important that the right kind of soy sauce is used. The base of the marinade, and the key to flavor, is the soy sauce. Now, there are different types of soy sauces: light, dark, white, and low-sodium.  There’s mushroom too, but let’s just stick with the basics. Soy sauce at the table is a dipping sauce. In cooking, light and low-sodium soy sauces both add saltiness and color to the dish whereas dark soy sauce is sweeter and thicker and in cooking, primarily adds color. Light soy sauce does not refer to color but rather to its consistency when poured, as opposed to dark soy sauce which has a syrupy consistency. White soy sauce, a precious amber liquid, merely adds salt without the color. It is perfect for cooking tofu and white vegetables like bok choy that can look off-their-color when a dash of soy sauce browns them. It’s a matter of aesthetics!

But ’nuff said. Let’s get started, shall we?

For the marinade:
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 garlic cloves (more if you like, and I like!)
3 pounds pork spareribs, separated

Prepare the marinade. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife, and add to the bowl. Put the spareribs in a plastic bag and pour the marinade all over. Close the bag and “massage” it to distribute the marinade. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (overnight is better), turning the bag at least once.

For the glaze
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1-2 tablespoons honey (I recommend the full 2 tablespoons, honey!)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Get ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Remove the spareribs from the bag and discard the marinade. Place the spareribs meaty side up on a rimmed baking tray lined with foil. I like to line a rimmed baking sheet with double foil for easy clean up afterwards because it will be a sticky baked-on mess. Cover ribs loosely with foil and bake 50 minutes.

Glaze the spareribs. Remove the foil covering and baste spareribs with half the glaze. The original recipe said to discard the pan juices but I didn’t because the juices prevented the ribs from drying out during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Then, turn ribs over and baste again with the remaining glaze. By this time, the ribs will have turned a rich deep brown color. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately and clean up, which will be so easy because you just throw away the foil.

Notes. Now, can you do these ribs on a barbecue? How much time you got? Ribs need to be slowcooked for hours to get to the tender-meat-falling-off-the-bone stage. I recommend baking them in the oven 50 minutes then finish glazing them on the grill.

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