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Chinese Sticky Ribs: A Sweet and Savory Delight

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Chinese sticky ribs, also known as Chinese BBQ ribs or Chinese glazed ribs, are a beloved dish in Chinese cuisine celebrated for their tender meat and irresistible sweet and savory glaze. This dish exemplifies the art of Chinese cooking, where flavors are carefully balanced to create a harmonious blend of taste and texture. Whether served as an appetizer, part of a main course, or featured at festive gatherings, Chinese sticky ribs offer a delightful culinary experience that is sure to please any palate.

Culinary Heritage and Significance

Chinese sticky ribs trace their origins to Cantonese cuisine, renowned for its emphasis on fresh ingredients and delicate flavors. The dish typically features pork ribs that are marinated, slow-cooked until tender, and then glazed with a sticky sauce that combines sweet and savory elements. This cooking method enhances the natural richness of the pork while imparting a glossy finish and caramelized flavor to the ribs, making them a favorite in Chinese restaurants and homes alike.

Ingredients

To prepare Chinese sticky ribs, gather the following ingredients:

  • Pork Spare Ribs: 2 lbs, cut into individual ribs
  • Garlic: 4 cloves, minced
  • Ginger: 1-inch piece, minced
  • Soy Sauce: 1/2 cup
  • Hoisin Sauce: 1/4 cup
  • Honey: 1/4 cup
  • Chinese Rice Wine (or Dry Sherry): 2 tbsp
  • Brown Sugar: 2 tbsp
  • Sesame Oil: 1 tbsp
  • Five-Spice Powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • Vegetable Oil: 2 tbsp (for cooking)
  • Green Onions: 2, chopped (for garnish)
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds: for garnish (optional)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Marinate the Ribs:
    • In a large bowl, combine minced garlic, minced ginger, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, Chinese rice wine, brown sugar, sesame oil, five-spice powder, and salt. Mix well to create the marinade.
  2. Coat the Ribs:
    • Add the pork ribs to the marinade, ensuring each rib is well coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the ribs and marinade to a resealable plastic bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.
  3. Cook the Ribs:
    • Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Remove the marinated ribs from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Transfer the ribs and marinade to a baking dish or a roasting pan.
  4. Bake the Ribs:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the ribs are tender and cooked through. Halfway through baking, remove the foil and baste the ribs with the marinade to ensure they remain moist and flavorful.
  5. Glaze the Ribs:
    • Increase the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C). Uncover the ribs and continue baking for an additional 15-20 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until the ribs are caramelized and sticky.
  6. Garnish and Serve:
    • Remove the ribs from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds (if using), and serve hot as a delicious appetizer or main dish.

Tips for Perfect Chinese Sticky Ribs

  • Choosing Ribs: Use pork spare ribs for this recipe, as they are well-suited to slow cooking and absorb flavors beautifully.
  • Marinating Time: Marinate the ribs for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to fully penetrate the meat.
  • Basting: Basting the ribs during cooking ensures they remain moist and flavorful while developing a sticky glaze.

Serving Suggestions

Chinese sticky ribs are traditionally served hot as an appetizer or as part of a larger Chinese meal. They pair well with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables, offering a balance of textures and flavors. These ribs are also a fantastic addition to a buffet or party spread, showcasing their glossy appearance and enticing aroma.

Conclusion

Chinese sticky ribs exemplify the richness and complexity of Cantonese cuisine, combining tender pork ribs with a sweet and savory glaze that delights the senses. By following this recipe, you can recreate the authentic flavors of this beloved dish at home and enjoy its succulent texture and caramelized finish. Embrace the essence of Chinese culinary traditions with Chinese sticky ribs and savor a dish that captures the essence of festive gatherings and everyday indulgence alike.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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