Multi-layered flavour penetrating the tender meat, braised spare ribs with black bean sauce is a scrumptious treat requiring effortless preparation.
If you have had Cantonese dim sum brunch, you might know a dish called steamed spare ribs with black beans (豉汁蒸排骨). Bite-sized ribs seasoned by whole black beans and other Chinese condiments. It’s one of my favourite dim sum dishes. Inspired by this classic delicacy, I created a recipe using my homemade Spicy Black Bean Sauce. It’s finger-licking good and super easy to cook.
These ribs are tender & flavourful
The dim sum steamed ribs have a chewy texture, whereas my braised spare ribs with black bean sauce are much tenderer. Cooked in liquid for at least 40 minutes, most of the meat falls off the bone quite easily. The braising process also helps the pungent flavour of black bean sauce to penetrate the meat.
How to braise meat the Chinese way
In Chinese cuisine it’s very common to braise meat with aromatics, spices and flavour packed sauces. Chinese Beef Stew and Braised Pork Belly are two popular examples. Braised meat dishes, including today’s spare rib recipe, often share the same cooking procedures:
- Blanch the meat to remove most of the impurities. Make sure you put the meat into cold water then heat up (instead of putting it into boiling water).
- In a clean pot, fry onion, ginger or garlic, etc. in a bit of oil to release their aroma. For today’s recipe, I use yellow onion (for its natural sweetness) and ginger.
- Stir in drained meat. Add seasoning and water. Leave to simmer.
- When the meat is fully cooked, uncover the pot then cook on full heat to reduce and thicken the liquid. You should skip this procedure on two conditions: if the liquid is rather clear and can be consumed as a soup on its own, or the braising dish is cooked for a noodle soup dish.
Make your own black bean sauce
In this braised spare rib dish, the key flavour comes from the homemade spicy black bean sauce which has a complex and multi-layered taste. You can use this versatile sauce to cook vegetables, meat, tofu, fish and seafood.
My recipe makes about 1 cupful of black bean sauce. Store it in an airtight jar when it’s completely cool and use it within 2 weeks.
🛎 Substitutes: If you don’t have time to make the sauce yourself, please feel free to use shop-bought black bean sauce, such as Lao Gan Ma preserved black beans in chili oil (老干妈风味豆豉). Due to the different levels of saltiness, you might need to adjust the volume of the sauce needed.
Other Classic Recipes
There are so many delicious ways to cook meat in Chinese cuisine. Here are a few dishes you might like:
Braised spare ribs with black bean sauce
For the black bean sauce (skip if using shop-bought version)
- 70 g fermented black beans, about ½ cup
- 110 ml cooking oil, about ½ cup
- 1 stalk scallions, cut into sections
- 3 slices ginger
- ½ teaspoon Sichuan pepper
- 3 tablespoon fresh chilli, finely chopped, optional
- 2 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 pinch salt
Make the black bean sauce (skip if using shop-bought version)
- Rinse fermented black beans under running water. Dry them very well with kitchen paper. Coarsely chop them into small pieces.
- Place scallions, ginger and Sichuan peppercorn in a wok. Pour in oil then heat up over medium heat. When the scallions and ginger become lightly brown, pick them out along with the Sichuan peppercorn and discard.
- Add fermented black beans and all the other ingredients for the sauce into the oil. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes. This recipe makes about 1 cupful of sauce (See note 2 for other usage and storage tips).
Braise the pork ribs
- Put ribs into a pot filled with cold water (enough to cover the ribs completely). Bring the water to a full boil. Use a spoon to skim off the froth on the surface. Then drain the ribs.
- Heat up the oil in a clean pot over medium-high heat. Fry onion and ginger until they become soft.
- Stir in drained ribs. Add black bean sauce and soy sauce. Pour in hot water (just enough to cover the ribs). Cover the pot with a tight lid. Leave to simmer for at least 40 minutes until the meat becomes tender.
- Turn the heat to high, then cook uncovered until the broth reduces by half and becomes thick. Stir in scallions then dish out to serve.