Chinese Spare Ribs


The flavour that is most distinctively Chinese is star anise, which is the dominant ingredient in aromatic five-spice powder. You could serve the ribs on their own as a first course, or with steamed rice as a main dish.


  • 1 kg/ 2 lb2 oz pork spare ribs
  • 150 ml/ ¼ pt Chinese dark soy sauce (for example, Pearl River)
  • 2.5-cm/ 1-inch piece of root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 tsp five-spice powder
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
  • 100 ml/ fl oz sunflower oil
  • tbsp liquid honey


The day before: chop the spare ribs with a cleaver into 5-cm / 2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, chilli flakes, garlic and tablespoons of the sunflower oil. Add the rib pieces and toss to coat. Cling-wrap the top and refrigerate for 24 hours, shaking occasionally to ensure even marination.

Next day: drain the pork through a colander into a saucepan. Put a heavy frying pan with the remaining sunflower oil over a moderate heat. When very hot, add the ribs a few at a time and sear, transferring to the saucepan with the marinade when browned.

Bring the contents of the saucepan to the boil, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Simmer gently for 30–45 minutes, when the meat should be meltingly tender.

Remove the lid and stir in the honey. Increase the heat and reduce, tossing and stirring, until the water content has evaporated and the ribs are covered with a rich glaze. Do not leave the pan while reducing the marinade because it will burn easily.

Serve on a warmed serving plate for people to help themselves.