Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce

Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce

Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce

The house where I grew up had a sunny back porch with wall-to-wall windows on two sides. Hanging from a clothesline strung up in one corner of the room were duck gizzards and tangerine peels. When these items are dry, they’re stored in jars and eventually end up in soups and stews.

In this classic Cantonese recipe, tangerine peel is my mom’s secret ingredient. The peel serves a similar purpose as lemon zest in Western recipes. Dried tangerine peel can be purchased at Asian food markets, but it’s easy to dry your own.

Some recipes call for chilies, but I prefer to use the milder bell peppers, in combination with a small amount of red pepper flakes, to lend a piquant flavor to the sauce without making it overly spicy.

The hardest part of this recipe is getting the right pork ribs. Use the lower ribs, not baby back ribs. Have the center section of the lower ribs cut into 1- or 1-1/2-inch segments. Those living near a Chinese meat market are in luck. This is a standard cut in Asian meat departments. Otherwise, you’ll have to explain to your butcher what you want. Some will understand if you tell them you need the ribs for sweet and sour. For more on ribs and how to distinguish one cut from another, check out the excellent Amazing Ribs website.

  • 1 pound pork spareribs cut into segments about 1-1/2 inches long
  • 2 tablespoons mashed black beans or black bean sauce
  • 1 piece tangerine peel about 1 inch by 1 inch
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy
  • 1 tablespoon thin soy
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 coarsely diced green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped green onion for garnish

Soak the tangerine peel in warm water for 15 minutes, then cut into slivers.

Separate the ribs into small pieces by cutting between the bones. Combine and mix all the remaining ingredients except the bell pepper and green onion, and stir into the spareribs. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix the diced bell pepper into the marinated spareribs, then transfer to a plate with high sides. Cook for 45-60 minutes at medium heat in a covered steamer. Garnish with the chopped green onion and serve.

English name Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce
Chinese name ????
Cantonese (Jyutping) si6 zap1 paai4 gwat1
Mandarin (Pinjin)