An appetizer that is a "must have" in any Chinese restaurant is their mouth watering ribs. I have often wondered what gives them the unique flavor and reddish color. I decided to Google a few recipes and see what the "key" ingredients are in creating these delightful "Chinatown ribs." It appears that many recipes start with a basic Hoisin sauce (either homemade or store-bought) as well as Five Spice Powder. The reddish color is created by adding a little red food coloring. How easy and simple is that?
However, it seems that I can't stop at "simple" so I experimented with adding a little of this and a little of that to come up with just the right consistency to make the perfect glaze. I basically used a combination of my basic barbecue sauce recipe and a Chinese rib recipe. These ribs are best when started the day before serving. The brining process helps to keep the ribs moist and tender.
Many recipes call for using spareribs and most Chinese restaurants use them but I prefer the meatiness of baby back ribs. I recently served these as an appetizer for the Great 8 Fog City Diner themed dinner but they can also can be prepared as a dinner with a side of steamed rice and vegetables.
- 1 cup Hoisin sauce
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1/2 cup white wine, or apple juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce,, optional
- 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- Red food coloring or beet root powder, optional, as needed for desired color
- 3 pounds baby back ribs
- Kosher salt for brining
- Toasted sesame seeds or green onions for garnish
Directions for Marinade:
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl or jar until well blended. Set aside until ready to use.
Directions for Ribs:
- Cut ribs into 3 rib sections.
- Place ribs in large pot and fill will water until covered (use 1/2 cup of salt per gallon of water).
- Bring the pot with the ribs to a boil. Once the ribs start to boil, immediately remove from the heat and cool completely.
- Cover the pot and place the entire pot with the ribs in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, rinse off all the rib pieces and pat dry.
- Place the ribs in a slow cooker and baste the ribs with a layer of sauce.
- Cook on low for 4-5 hours or until tender, occasionally brushing ribs with the sauce.
- Ribs can then be either broiled with a layer of sauce or placed on a grill for extra crispness. Be careful when barbecuing on the grill or broiling as the high sugar content of the sauce can burn easily.
- Let ribs slightly cool before slicing into 1 rib pieces before serving.
- Top with toasted sesame seeds or chopped green onion...or both!
- Ribs can be prepared the same day by simmering them in water and salt for 3 hours. Rinse the ribs and pat dry. Arrange them on a foil lined or well greased baking pan. Brush sauce on all sides of the ribs. Bake in 350º F oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with more sauce and bake for another 20 minutes. Finish the ribs off by placing under the broiler for a few seconds until glazed and crispy. Remove from the oven and cool before slicing into 1 rib pieces.
- Star Anise can be used in place of Five Spice Powder.