Sweet and Sour Spareribs

Tangsu Paigu

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: UniqueMeal: Easy, Made in Advance

    John and I share an embarrassing weakness for barbecued spareribs. Every once in a while, we venture out to a local chop-suey palace to indulge ourselves. Although it would be difficult to vouch for their authenticity, the bright red, sweet, and sticky spareribs that most Chinese-American restaurants feature are, in their way, quite delightful, for pork and sugar have a delicious affinity for each other.

    Mrs. Chiang’s spareribs are equally marvelous. They are marinated in a simple mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar and then deep fried until they are crisp. The contrast between the spareribs’ tangy sweet and sour flavor and their delightfully crunchy texture is quite extraordinary. Since they are easily prepared and can be eaten with the fingers, these unusual spareribs are an excellent party food. They can be fried in advance and then reheated in the oven just before serving.



    1-½ pounds spareribs Rinse off the spareribs and then cut them into individual ribs. Make tiny slashes along the sides of the meat every ¼ inch or so, and if the spareribs are particularly fatty cut off some of the excess fat. Put the ribs in a shallow bowl or plate.

    1-½ teaspoons salt

    1-½ teaspoons granulated sugar

    2 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

    Sprinkle the salt, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar over the spareribs.
    1-inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger and cut it into shreds about ⅛ inch wide, the width of a wooden matchstick. Sprinkle them over the spareribs.
    2 scallions Clean the scallions, then smash them with the side of your cleaver. Cut the smashed scallions, both white part and green, into 2-inch lengths. Add these to the spareribs.
    Mix all the ingredients very thoroughly with the spareribs, then set aside to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.


    2-½ cups peanut or other cooking oil, approximately Heat your wok, or whatever pan you use for deep-fat frying, over a high flame for 15 seconds, then pour in the oil. It may take 5 or 10 minutes until the oil is hot enough for cooking; it should be practically smoking.
    (spareribs) When the oil is ready, put in the spareribs. (Depending on the amount of oil you use, you may want to cook the spareribs in several batches.) Fry the spareribs for 5 minutes, or until they have turned very dark brown and are quite dry and crisp, then remove them from the oil with chopsticks or a slotted spoon and let them drain for about 1 minute on some paper towels. Serve immediately.