Melt in your Mouth tender chinese spare ribs, also known as Jin Du Pai Gu with sweet and savory flavors from Star Anise, and Rock Sugar!
Chinese spare ribs are slowly braised in a soy based braising liquid and come out so tender and delicious, with the meat practically falling off the bone. The ribs are smothered in a rich, sticky, finger-licking glaze that will have you wanting to go back for seconds!
These ribs are seriously my favorite homemade Chinese dish. They’re so easy to make with minimal ingredients and perfect for a rainy weekend in that will leave your house smelling full of delicious aromas. Really – this dish takes no effort at all and the end result of restaurant quality ribs at home is well worth waiting for the braising liquid to reduce down to a sticky glaze.
- Spare Ribs – The star ingredient. Any style of spare ribs works for this dish.
- Star Anise – This dried brown eight-pointed seedpod adds a licorice note to braises and sauces.
- Ginger – Essential for chinese cooking. Complements the star anise.
- Light Soy Sauce – this is the common soy sauce that you can find at any local grocery store. “Light” refers to color and consistency, not sodium content. I’m partial to Low-sodium soy sauce so that the salt level can be more controlled.
- Dark Soy Sauce – Thicker, darker, and slightly sweeter than its cousin, the light soy sauce. Used to flavor dishes and darken the color of sauces. Using Dark Soy sauce is highly crucial to obtaining that rich dark color in the Chinese Spare Ribs Jing Du Pai Gu!
- Shaoxing Wine – This amber-hued rice wine is specifically made for cooking. It adds a depth and subtle sweetness to savory dishes, like this one!, with notes of vanilla and other warm spices.
- Rock Sugar – Secret ingredient to sticky and shiny spare ribs. Read on below for more details….
- Water – Barely cover the ribs with water to create the braising liquid for the ribs to soak up all the juicy flavors
Look for big, unwrinkled “hands” of ginger and store them in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks. You can also freeze ginger; it softens upon defrosting, but maintains its distinct flavor.
To peel a knobby piece, the least wasteful method is to scrape the skin with the edge of a spoon. The fastest method is to slice off the skin and any stubby bits with a sharp paring knife.
What is rock sugar? … The secret ingredient to Chinese Spare Ribs!
Rock sugar is formed from sugar cane extract and water. It is usually used as a drink sweetener or as a candy snack in asian cultures. Rock sugar is less sweet than granulated sugar, so it ‘s really a great sweetener that doesn’t overpower the taste and provides nice caramelly (is that even a word??) undertones.
Chinese rock sugar gives braised meat, like this spare ribs recipe, a translucent and shiny appearance, and a delicate flavor that regular white granulated sugar can’t provide.
It really is the special ingredient in the chinese spare ribs that brings the dish from home cook level to a pro-level finish with a nice sheen!
Substitutions for Rock Sugar
Rock sugar can be purchased at specialty asian grocery stores or online at Weee! White granulated sugar can be used as a substitute, but since it’s sweeter you’ll need less (in the recipe, substitute 1/2 cup of rock sugar for 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar).
For a darker and richer flavor, brown sugar works too.Print
Chinese Spare Ribs (jin du pai gu)
- Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- 2 pounds spare ribs (pork loin back ribs or St. Louis spare ribs, separated into individual ribs)
- 3 slices Ginger
- 3 pieces five star anise
- 6 cups Water
- 1/3 cup Light Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce (
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or Cooking Wine
- 1/3 cup Rock Sugar
- Add the ribs to a large heavy pot and cover with cold water over high heat. After boiling for 1 minute, turn off heat, and rinse ribs under cold water. Return ribs to pot.
- Turn stove to medium high heat. Add five star anise and ginger to pot with ribs. Add water to pot until the ribs are just covered. Add light and dark soy sauces, and cooking wine. Once the water is boiling, lower heat, cover pot with a lid and cook for 1 1/2 hour (90 minutes).
- Add rock sugar and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- Turn stove to medium-high and cook until the sauce is reduced and sticky to the ribs.
- Plate and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: Jing Du Pai Gu, Chinese Spare Ribs, Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs
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