Our salt and pepper spare ribs are seriously sticky and mouth-wateringly moreish.
These salt and pepper ribs are a classic Chinese specialty. The secret to their melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and crispy texture is to cook them twice. First, slow-cook them in a slow cooker or casserole dish in a low oven, giving the meat time to leisurely fall off the bone. Then toss them in salt and spices and deep-fry to seal in flavour, and make them extra sticky. You will need to plan ahead with this recipe, as for the best results, we suggest marinating these salt and pepper spare ribs for a couple of hours beforehand in Chinese rice wine and light soy sauce. Enjoy them on their own as a decadent starter, or make a meal of it and serve alongside some easy egg fried rice.
Read our tried and tested reviews of the best slow cookers.
- 1 rack pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
- For the spice coating:
- 1tsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 1tsp sea salt
- ½tsp Chinese five spice powder
- For the marinade:
- 1tbsp light soy sauce
- 1tsp brown sugar
- 1tbsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Grind all the ingredients for the spice mix in a coffee grinder to a powder.
Meanwhile prepare the marinade by mixing half the spice mix and the marinade ingredients in a freezer bag or bowl. Add the ribs and leave in the fridge for at least 2hrs, or overnight.
Add a little water to a slow cooker and cook the ribs and their marinade on low for 2-3hrs, until the meat is very tender, almost falling off the bone. If you don’t have a slow cooker, put the ribs and a little water in a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid and put them in the oven at 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 for the same length of time.
Drain the ribs and pat dry. Toss again in the other half of the spice mixture to coat.
Fill a large frying pan or wok with sunflower oil to a depth of 2cm and heat on the hob. When the oil is smoking hot, deep fry the ribs in batches for 1-2 mins. Drain on kitchen paper. Transfer to a plate and serve.
Top tips for making salt and pepper spare ribs:
Be sure to buy ribs that have already been individually cut to save you the time and task. Independent butchers or meat counters at supermarkets should be able to help you out with this.