Chinese barbecued spareribs
6 inches ginger
peeled and sliced thin
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
1 cup honey
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
or dry sherry
2 tsp five-spice powder
1 tsp white pepper
2 racks St. Louis-style spareribs
about 2 1/2-3 pounds per rack, cut into individual ribs
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup water
While a departure from traditional technique, this recipe utilizes everyday equipment and ingredients to achieve incredible flavor and texture. Because we are a small family of 3, we cook only half of the recipe at a time unless we are entertaining, so we've revised our version of the recipe to align with our flow at home. We also use an immersion blender instead of a food processor (we have one but it is a pain to get out of the closet then clean) to break down the ginger and garlic for the braising liquid.
Cook off the first. This is an optional step that adds time to the process, but results in a cleaner end product. Fill the Dutch oven with water and bring it to a boil. Boil the ribs for a few minutes to eliminate any extra scum. Drain and rinse the ribs and discard the water. Rinse and dry the Dutch oven.
Preheat the Dutch oven over low heat.
In a wide-mouthed mason jar, combine the ginger, garlic, and water. Process with an immersion blender until the mixture is smooth, then pour it into the Dutch oven.
Add the honey, hoisin, soy sauce, rice wine, five-spice, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Add the ribs to the Dutch oven. While they will only be partially submerged in the sauce, pull up pieces from the bottom until all ribs are coated. Increase the heat to high then cover once it starts to boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes for a chewy consistency. Give them an extra 15 minutes for more tenderness. Periodically pull up ribs from the bottom so that the ones on top get to braise in the sauce too.
If roasting all or part of the ribs immediately, preheat the oven to 425°F with the oven rack set in the middle,
Transfer the ribs into a large bowl with the help of tongs. Set a large strainer inside of a large (8 cup) measuring glass and pour the braising liquid through it. Use a large wooden spoon to stir and press the liquids through the solids, then let the liquid rest for 10 minutes. Discard the solids, then de-fat the liquid and discard the fat with a wide, shallow ladle. Rinse out the Dutch oven while the sauce settles.
Add the sesame oil and the strained, de-fatted braising liquid back into the Dutch oven. Boil over high heat and reduce for 16-20 minutes until about 2 1/2 cups are left. Whisk from time to time.
Preheat the oven to 425°F with the oven rack set in the middle at this point if needed. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil then set the wire rack inside of it. Pour water onto the foil (this helps reduce smoke in the oven).
Add about half of the ribs to the glaze in the Dutch oven. Stir to coat, then set the ribs bone side up onto the wire rack. Roast for 5-7 minutes or until edges caramelize.
Flip the ribs and roast for another 5-7 minutes. Repeat steps 10 and 11 if cooking all the ribs in one fell swoop. Plate the ribs and enjoy immediately.
If cooking only half at a time, store the remaining ribs and glaze separately in airtight containers for up to 2 days. Bring the ribs and glaze to a simmer when ready to cook the remaining half, then continue the recipe from step 9.
source: adapted from the January-February 2018 issue of Cook's Illustrated
The butcher at Whole Foods clarified for me that spare ribs and baby back ribs are two different pieces of meat. This article from contains a good illustration that helps visualize the difference.