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Chinese-Style Honey Spare Ribs

You see these on almost every Chinese restaurant’s appetizer menu. They’re sweet, but with a hard-to-place savory quality in the background. Spare ribs are the larger rib pieces that attach to the pork belly. They’re cut away from the part used for bacon, so they’re “spare.” Chinese cooks cut them into shorter pieces, but that’s a challenge at home; don’t bother. These ribs are sweet and rich, and are better as an appetizer than as an entree. The ingredients called for in the recipe can all be found in jars in the ethnic section of the supermarket.

Chinese-style barbecue rubs.

Chinese-style barbecue rubs.

  • 2 racks spare ribs, 3-4 pounds each
  • Marinade ingredients:
  • 2 Tbs. Chinese black bean sauce
  • 2 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 4 Tbs. hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 Tbs. dark rum
Chinese-style barbecue rubs.

Chinese-style barbecue rubs.

1. Remove excess fat from the ribs, and cut shallow slits (the way you would for a ham) all over the rack with a sharp knife.

2. Combine all the marinade ingredients. Rub the marinade liberally all over the ribs, and wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Marinate in the refrigerator six hours to overnight.

3. An hour before cooking, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and allow to come up to cool room temperature.

4. Preheat oven to broil. Place the rib racks in a broiler pan. (You might want to cover the inside of the pan with foil, to make cleanup easier). Place the pan in the oven about six inches from the heat source and broil the ribs for about 35 minutes, depending on size. Baste and turn over the ribs four times during the broiling. If they begin looking dry, add a little water to the pan.

5. When ribs are done, remove from pan. Cut apart and serve immediately. Save any sauce from the pan to use as a sauce if you like.

Serves four to six.

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