These Chinese Wuxi Pork Spare ribs are a taste sensation. I've long been a fan of pork spare ribs, so when I first tasted these little morsels in a fantastic Shanghai restaurant in Sydney a few years back I just knew I had to make them a regular in my household. They are meltingly tender pork ribs cooked in a delicious sweet and slightly sour sauce - they are finger-licking-sticking-fricking good!
What are Wuxi style Pork Ribs?
Wuxi is a City in the East of China in the Jiangsu region and close to Shanghai. It is an ancient city, dating back to the Bronze Age (1600 BC) and was an important hub for rice, silk and textiles. These days, the city is renowned and treasured for its cuisine; said to be the sweetest food in China! This makes it a major centre for Tourism, with visitors from all across the country.
Sweet dishes range from seafood to rice and all manner of meat. One of the most treasured dishes are the famous Wuxi pork spare ribs. Sweet, sour and salty pork ribs that fall off the bone, coated in a magical sticky sauce. Traditionally the sauce has a striking red colour thanks to the use of red yeast rice - a fermented rice with a rich red hue. Outside of China it can be tricky to track down, and given that it is used only for colour, the recipe doesn't suffer in flavour by omitting it.
Again, traditionally the sauce is sweetened using rock sugar (unrefined sugar in its raw, jagged form), but regular sugar works just fine too. My Wuxi pork spare ribs recipe, uses ingredients we can all get hold of with relative ease, while still holding on to the authentic Chinese taste.
The resulting ribs are cooked until meltingly tender then served coated in the sweet, sticky sauce. The sauce also has wonderful hints of star anise and cinnamon and a note of sourness from the vinegar. It's absolutely addictive and those fingers will get a good licking! Be sure to sample one of the cooked slices of ginger you'll use for the sauce too - they're out of this world!
Whether it's a sit-down Chinese feast or just a bowl of Wuxi ribs in front of the game, I think you'll agree that they're an amazing little dish to have in your back pocket - ready to impress your friends, family or even just yourself!
Place the spare ribs into a large bowl or plastic bag. Pour in the soy sauce then add the pepper and salt. Toss around to coat evenly, then cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.
Heat a deep frying pan with about 1-inch of oil and heat over a moderate heat until just hot (around 375ºF/190ºC).
Sprinkle the ribs with cornstarch and toss around to coat. Carefully add them one by one into the hot oil (if you need to do this in batches, do that to avoid overcorwding the pan)Cook for 5 minutes each side then remove and set aside. Repeat as necessary with the extra ribs.
Heat a wok over a medium heat. While it's heating add the ginger slices, spring onion, star anise and cinnamon. Place the ribs on top and roughly try to get in one layer.
Pour in the soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine and then pour in enough water reach all the ribs but not fully cover. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cover.
Simmer gently, covered for 1 hour - Toss the ribs around every 10 minutes to ensure they all cook evenly.
Remove the ribs from the pan and add the sugar and vinegar to the sauce. Let this gently reduce for about 5 minutes until thickened.
Toss the ribs in the reduced sauce then tip them, sauce and all onto a waiting platter to serve hot!