An easy home version of a classic dim sum dish, steamed ribs with black beans are succulent and irresistibly flavorful.
What are steamed ribs with black beans?
If you are a regular diner at Cantonese Dim Sum (广式早茶) restaurants, you have likely either savored today’s dish or come across it on the menu. Steamed Ribs with Black Beans (Chǐ Zhī Zhēng Pái Gǔ/豉汁蒸排骨) stands as one of the most favored dim sum items, typically presented in small portions inside bamboo steamers.
It features bite-sized pork ribs steamed with fermented black beans, aromatics, and a set of umami-rich condiments. They are loved for their complex flavors – savory, aromatic, garlicky, earthy, and more – alongside their tender and juicy texture.
While I enjoy indulging in this dish at Dim Sum restaurants and pairing them with other classics like Har Gow, Cheung Fun, Siu Mai, etc., I also like cooking it in larger portions as a main course for everyday meals. The cooking process is fairly straightforward, and the outcome is truly satisfying.
🛎 NOTE: If steaming doesn’t pique your interest, I also have a recipe for Braised Ribs with Black Bean Sauce which shares many similarities. Give it a try!
Here is a list of ingredients you need to make dim sum-style steamed ribs:
- Pork ribs, cut into bite-sized chunks, like how they’re served in Chinese Sweet and Sour Ribs. This way, you can handle them easily with chopsticks. Also, it doesn’t take very long to cook them.
- Baking soda & cornstarch, for tenderizing the meat
- Fermented black beans (Douchǐ /豆豉). The key flavor booster for this dish, they offer an aromatic, earthy, and salty taste. You can find them in many classic Chinese dishes, such as Mapo Tofu, Hunan Pork, Dim Sum Chicken Feet, etc.
- Aromatics: garlic, ginger, fresh chili and scallions
- A set of common Chinese condiments including light soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, white pepper, salt, and sugar
🛎 TIP: To learn more about fermented black beans, check out my post on Black Bean Sauce which explains their characteristics and offers advice on their purchase.
Step 1: Tenderize the ribs
Mix baking soda and water in a large bowl then add the ribs. Let them sit in the solution for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours. Baking soda helps to break down the meat’s proteins, resulting in a more tender texture.
Then rinse the ribs thoroughly under running water to minimize the alkaline taste that baking soda might leave on the meat.
Pat dry the drained ribs with kitchen paper to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Sprinkle some salt and cornstarch over, then rub the mixture evenly onto the ribs. This step helps further tenderize the meat.
Step 2: Marinate the ribs
To prepare the marinade, begin by frying garlic, ginger, and fermented black beans (rinsed and coarsely chopped) in a little oil until fragrant. Next, incorporate fresh chili, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, white pepper and sugar. Allow the mixture to simmer briefly.
Once the marinade has cooled down, gently massage it onto the ribs. Let them sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, or for an even richer taste, refrigerate them overnight.
🛎 TIP: If the ribs have been chilled, make sure to bring them back to room temperature before you start steaming them.
Step 3: Steamed the ribs
Choose a serving plate that can fit comfortably inside your wok or pot, which will be used for steaming. Arrange the marinated ribs in a single layer on the plate.
First, bring water to a full boil in the wok or pot. Then place the plate of ribs on a steamer rack or inside a steamer basket. Cover with a lid and leave to steam over medium-high heat for 20 minutes.
Once the ribs are ready, remove them from the steamer. For an added touch, garnish with finely chopped scallions before serving.
🛎 TIP: Depending on the size of your wok/pot, it’s advisable to monitor the water level during the steaming process to prevent it from fully evaporating. Top up with more water when necessary.
Serve & store
Enjoy these beautifully seasoned, tender ribs with a bowl of steamed rice. To create a well-balanced meal, pair them with leafy greens such as Blanched Chinese Broccoli, Stir-fried Garlic Bok Choy, or Water Spinach with Fermented Tofu.
The flavorful juice released from the ribs during steaming is a precious addition. So don’t forget to mix it into your rice.
In the unlikely event of leftovers (You will likely devour them all at once), store them in the fridge for up to two days. To reheat, steam them for a few minutes to restore their deliciousness.
Other dim sum dishes
Looking for more classic dim sum recipes? Here are some popular ones to try:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & if you REALLY like it, consider leaving a comment as well!
Steamed Ribs with Black Beans (豉汁蒸排骨)
- 1 lb pork ribs - cut into bite-sized pieces (see note 1)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda, - aka bicarbonate of soda
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic - minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger - minced
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans - rinsed and coarsely chopped (see note 2)
- Fresh chili pepper - finely chopped, to taste
- ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Scallions - finely chopped
Tenderize the ribs
- Put ribs into a large bowl. Add baking soda and water. Mix to dissolve. Then leave to soak for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
- Discard the soaking water, Rinse and rub to clean the ribs under running water. Drain and use kitchen paper to dry the ribs as much as possible.
- Add salt and cornstarch to the ribs. Rub with hands to ensure a thorough coating.
Marinate the ribs
- Heat oil in a wok/pan. Fry garlic, ginger, and fermented black beans over low heat until fragrant (do not burn the aromatics). Add fresh chili, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, white pepper and sugar. Simmer for 10 seconds or so, then remove from the heat.
- Once the seasoning sauce cools down, pour it over the ribs. Mix well to coat evenly. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight in the fridge (see note 3).
Steamed the ribs
- Transfer the ribs to a plate for steaming. Arrange them in a single layer without overlapping.
- Bring water to a full boil in a wok/pot which you use for steaming (see note 4). Then put the plate of ribs over a steamer rack, or inside a steamer basket. Cover with a lid and leave to steam over medium-high heat for 20 minutes.
- Garnish with scallions and serve the dish immediately with steamed rice, alone or with other savory dishes.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.