Cha Siu Spare Ribs

Remember those fire engine red colored, sweet, sticky ribs you’d get from the Chinese takeout in college after the end of an evening spent getting sloshed on cheap beer at the corner dive?  It was pretty obvious they weren’t exactly “authentic” Chinese, but neither was the sweet-and-sour pork nor the cream-cheese filled “crab” rangoon you added to the order.  Regardless of how real or not (or if they were really food or not), they were definitely more finger licking good than possibly even the Colonel’s finest herbs and spices.  This recipe is a mighty fine take on this fantastic junk-food.

Chinese BBQ Ribs

1⁄3 cup hoisin sauce
1⁄4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. sugar
3⁄4 tsp. red food coloring
1⁄4 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
1  2-lb. slab spareribs, preferably St. Louis style,
cut into individual ribs

Whisk together hoisin, soy, sherry, garlic, sugar, food coloring, and spice powder in a large bowl. Add ribs and toss to coat with marinade. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap, to let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350F. Arrange a baking rack on top of a rimmed, foil-lined sheet pan. Remove ribs from marinade and reserve marinade. Arrange on the rack, meat (not bone) side up. Place pan on middle rack of oven; pour in enough water that it reaches halfway up the sides of the pan, making sure the water does not touch the ribs. Bake ribs for 35 minutes. Baste ribs with reserved marinade; flip and baste again. Bake for 35 minutes more. (Add more water to pan if it dries up.)

Raise heat to 450F. Flip ribs again; baste with remaining marinade. Continue baking until ribs are glazed, browned, and tender, about 20 minutes more. Serve with Chinese mustard or duck sauce (optional).

Note: Ribs can also be made on the grill.  Cook, covered, on indirect heat for 35 minutes.  Flip, baste and cook covered for another 35 minutes.  Flip, baste and cook over direct heat to brown for 5-10 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Saveur.

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