Cooking with Alison

Steamed Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce

In Dim Sum, Meat and Eggs on March 10, 2010 at pm

Steamed spareribs is a dim sum dish, but it also makes a great meal when served with rice.  It is very easy to make at home.  Dim sum refers to various types of small dishes that are served with tea during the meal, yum cha (“drinking tea time”), which starts early in the morning and ends between noon and 3 pm, depending on the restaurant.  (Check out the other dim sum recipes that I have posted in the Asian – Dim Sum category.)

This recipe uses Chinese fermented black beans (douchi) which have a sharp smell and a unique salty flavour that is also slightly bitter.  They are used to make black bean sauce (which can be purchased in stores) that is used in some Chinese noodle dishes, chicken stir fries, bitter melon dishes, and steamed pork spareribs, to name a few.

Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce Recipe

serves 2 for a meal or serves 4 along with other dim sum dishes

1/2 to 3/4 lb pork spareribs or pork back ribs

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 slice of ginger cut into thin strips

2 cloves finely minced garlic

1/2 to 3/4 tbsp Chinese fermented black beans (douchi)

1 small red chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp oyster sauce

2 tsp shaoxing wine

2 tsp corn starch

1/2 tsp sesame oil

3 dashes white pepper

small pinch of sugar

Wash the ribs and pat dry with paper towels.  Cut between the bones to separate the individual pieces and put them in a bowl.  Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat.  Add ginger, garlic, fermented black beans, and chilli, and stir fry until the garlic is lightly golden.  Put these into the bowl with the ribs.  To the ribs, add soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, corn starch, sesame oil, white pepper, and sugar.  Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge (at least 2 hours would be better but I don’t always do this).

Set up your steaming equipment and bring the water to a rolling boil.  (I use a wok, a metal rack and a glass dish for steaming.  Here are detailed instructions for how to steam cook food.)  Place the marinated ribs into the glass dish on top of the rack, cover the wok, lower the heat to medium but maintain a boil, and steam for 15 to 35 minutes (depending on the thickness of the meat) until the ribs are just cooked through.  The meat will shrivel away from the ends of the bones, juices will run clear when cut, and the meat will no longer be pink.  Do not overcook.  Check on the water level every now and then and add more water as necessary so that the wok does not burn dry.  Serve hot.  This goes very well with rice.

  1. This is one of my regular dimsum whenever I’m in Chinatown relaxing. Was checking out how others do the same. Cheers!!

  2. Hi Alison! How’s it going? I just published my version of Steamed Spareribs.

  3. Hi Alison. I grew up eating (and loving) dim sum. I no longer eat pork, however. Do you think some sort of beef rib could be substituted in this recipe? (Note that I use vegetarian oyster sauce when I make dim sum.)

    • Hi there! Definitely! Substitute the pork for beef ribs! I’ve never tasted vegetarian oyster sauce before. Can you describe it in comparison to non-vegetarian oyster sauce? Thanks for your comment!

  4. I used to marinate my spare ribs when it just came from T&T (wen they are on sale) put one in a covered bowl for the night and more to be frozen (I’ll deep them in hot water to release them from the bowl, and put them in ziplock for easier keeping). On odd nights, when I don’t have time to cook – I’ll just take it from the freezer, put it in the bowl, pop in my steamer. A no time effort when I can rest or do other things.

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