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Black Bean Spare Ribs Recipe

(Chinese recipes, prepare authentic Chinese food now!)

Today,  I am very pleased to have Diana Kuan of Appetite for China as a guest writer on Rasa Malaysia. Based in Beijing, Diana is a freelance writer and cooking instructor specializing in Chinese recipes; she has also written for The Boston Globe, Food & Wine, and other publications. Please welcome Appetite for China as she shares her recipe of spicy black bean spare ribs recipe with us.

In Chinese cooking, there are few ingredients more versatile than fermented black beans. You can use it to flavor steamed fish, eggplant, or one of my favorite Sichuan dishes, twice-cooked pork. It has a pungent, earthy aroma; a spoonful of black beans packs so much flavor you often don’t need additional salt. One way to use fermented black beans is to buy them whole, rinse them under cold water, and chop them up. Of course, it’s also easy to find prepared black bean sauce at a local Chinese market. My latest obsession is chili black bean sauce. I keep a small bottle in the fridge and pull it out whenever I need a reliable sauce at the last minute.

Have you ever had steamed spare ribs at a Chinese dim sum restaurant? Yes, those little juicy ribs in the bamboo steamer, covered with with a dark garlicky sauce that everyone’s chopsticks fight for. No matter how good they taste, have you ever wondered how much better they would be pan-fried, with a spicier sauce? These spare ribs take only 15 minutes to cook, and the ingredients require little chopping. The brown sugar add a tinge of sweetness to compliment the black beans and chili oil. And be sure to have rice handy; you’ll need it to sop up the addictive sauce.

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28 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. veron

    I’ve missed eating this. My dad used to make this all the time. Thanks for reminding me what a tasty dish it is. I’ve always had my fix from a chinese dimsum cart and you are right that it’d be so much better pan-fried.

  2. I love black beans spare ribs, in fact, I love anything made with fermented black beans. I didn’t know it’s so easy to make this at home. I always think of this as something that would take me the whole day. Any idea how dim sum restaurant make the spare rib so tender?

  3. NYMY

    I love black bean spare ribs, and this is one of my favorites, however my wife doesn’t eat pork so she doesn’t make it for me. Fermented black beans with spare ribs is a Chinese classic, steamed or stir-fried, they are all good.

  4. I’ve just been to a lovely breakfast with friends, but one look at this photo and my mouth was watering!!! WOW I love that sauce you’ve made!!!!

  5. Anonymous

    I am a Muslim so I don’t eat pork. Can I use chicken for this black bean sauce recipe? If so, which part of chicken will be good? How long do I need to make it?

  6. buzzinghive

    Just tried this out – the ribs tasted good after infused with the black bean sauce. At the end of the simmer, the sauce had stick to my wok, not sure if its due to the corn flour or I din stir during the process ? So no sauce left for rice :( Anyway, thanks for the great recipe !

  7. hi bee! this is my second time to do this and i cant wait to eat it hahaha! im adding shitake mushrooms to give it some added texture :D thanks so much!

  8. Zeenath A. Rahim

    Hi. I am a diffident cook. I have been enjoying your blog the last two years. Some great & satisfying recipes. You are truly a natural and gifted cook.

    In this recipe for Black bean spare ribs which looks scrumptous, can I use beef or chicken instead of pork. I’m a Muslim and don’t eat pork?

    Look forward to enjoying your blog for a long time to come. Best wishes Zeenath, Dhaka, Bangladesh

  9. Evelyn

    I am wondering what is the name of this type of ribs. The type of ribs I see is always really long and not as meaty looking. Thank you-

    • Owen


      It is the regular (long) spare ribs that the butcher cuts into bite size. Buy it at a Chinese market, or other Asian markets, it is cheaper and they will always ask you if you want it cut. American market butchers generally don’t have a clue why you want it cut and will invariably cut it too big (2-3 inches, instead of 1 inch).


  10. Suzanne

    hi there……..really want to make these spareribs for my Epicurious club and it’s Chinese night in 1 week….can I make this recipe for about 15 people in my slow cooker so they can slow cook and be tender for about 6 hours? Hope you can help me ..Merci

  11. zephyr

    Made this today. The sauce was finger-licking good but the meat was tough. Is it supposed to be like this or more tender. If tender, what could I try to do next time?

  12. Dan

    Thanks for a great recipe. We cheated, we asked the butcher at the supermarket to cut the ribs into 1 inch strips (across the bone), that way we could easily cut them apart at home.

    Thanks again!

  13. paulina

    It’s such a big pleasure to cook from your book and from your website.
    The recipes that I’ve made came out really good.
    Thank You

  14. Donna

    Tried this tonight, used garlic black bean paste and no chili, but the sauce is way too salty for our taste even though I’ve added more water.

  15. thomas anthony navarro

    hi, can we make homemade chili black bean sauce??..coz i need it when i’m making siomai ( dumplings )..

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