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05 Dec 2020
Garlicky Black Bean Spare Ribs


  • 2 – 2 1/4 lbs lean, meaty spare ribs, cut into 1-2″ nuggets (your butcher will do this for you)
  • 2 tbsp corn oil
  • 1 dried facing heaven chili, seeds removed, crushed
  • 4 tbsp thinly sliced scallions
  • 3 1/2 tbsp fermented black beans, lightly rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, stem end (and any inner green bits) removed, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 C water


  1. Divide the rack into individual ribs by slicing the meat between the bones. You want separate ribs, small.

  2. Heat up your wok until it is just starting to steam, then swirl enough oil in to coat the bottom and partially up the sides.

  3. Add the scallions and crushed chili and stir-fry for just a moment, until fragrant.

  4. Add the ribs and just brown them on all sides before removing them to a bowl to set a side. Work in batches if necessary (with a typical home kitchen sized wok, it will be).

  5. Pour a bit of the water into the wok and scrape up any tasty browned bits that have stuck to the bottom, then mix that in with the ribs and all the other seasonings.

  6. Put everything in a good braising pot. I’ve used anything from a clay sand pot to the instant pot, whatevs.

  7. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the ribs are tender and done. This should take about 3-5 hours. (Tropp says 45 minutes. This is bullshit - braising to true tenderness takes hours. Cookbooks always lie about how long it takes for onions to brown or meat to braise.)


Adapted, with only tiny changes, from The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp.