Black Bean Spare Ribs

Black Bean Spare Ribs

Black Bean Spare Ribs are a dim sum must! But there’s no need to wait until the next time you are at a Chinese restaurant to enjoy, they are surprisingly easy to make at home. The spare ribs get marinated overnight, and then just tossed in a steamer, making them ideal for entertaining.  You can serve them dim sum style, with a bunch of other little bites, or serve them with rice and a veggie for a satisfying supper. Black Bean Spare Ribs are super kid friendly and I predict these will become part of your regular rotation. black bean spare ribs ingredients

First Soak the Spare Ribs

It is customary when making Black Bean Spare Ribs to first soak them in water for an hour or two. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does drain them of excess blood, which gives them a nice white appearance and keeps the sauce clear. When enjoyed as dim sum, these ribs are usually cut into tiny pieces or they will use rib tips. Sometimes I’m lucky and I will find ribs cut into thirds at the grocery store, but unless I’m at an Asian meat market, it’s rare to find the tiny off-cuts that you find in the traditional dish. But that’s fine, because while I do love the black bean ribs at Chinese restaurants, they’re not exactly what I would call meaty. You’d be hard pressed to eat a couple orders and feel like you’ve eaten anything filling. So I’ve taken inspiration from the flavors, but paired it with what is easiest to find at the grocery store. Spare ribs, technically St. Louis style ribs (because the sternum, cartilage, and rib tips are removed), are almost always available and easy to prepare. Unwrap them and cut them into individual ribs.

soak black bean spare ribs

Black Bean Spare Ribs Marinade

Marinades are magic! They tenderize and season at the same time, but my favorite part is how it lets me do all the work the day before. The marinade for these spare ribs has several Chinese star players that build amazing flavor. Shaoxing wine, toasted sesame oil, oyster sauce, and white pepper lend piquant, savory depth.

Steam the Spare Ribs

Steaming is the traditional method of cooking for Black Bean Spare Ribs. It’s a great method because it’s easy, hands off, and makes for minimal cleanup. It also creates the perfect texture. Fair warning, it does take a fair amount of time for the ribs to cook through and become tender but still have a little bite to them. That’s the trade off for using full size ribs. But the cooking requires almost no attention, only requiring you to add some additional water to the pot. If you prefer ribs meltingly tender, just increase the steaming time.

The black beans that we use here are actually salted and fermented soybeans. They supercharge any dish with savory, salty, umami goodness. A little goes a long way.

cornstarch black bean spare ribs

I steam them for about an hour, until the ribs are cooked through and opaque, adding water as needed. That hour of hands off cooking leaves me free to whip up some additional small plates, dim sum style. Some good ones to try are:

Or you can make Black Bean Spare Ribs the main event. Serve with rice and a simple green salad with Sesame Dressing for an easy but unforgettable meal.

black bean spare ribs beauty

Try these and let me know what you think. Rate and comment on the recipe below, and show off your dish by tagging @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!


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Black Bean Spare Ribs

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus soaking and marinating)
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: small plates
  • Cuisine: Chinese




  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper


  • 1 rack St. Louis style pork spare ribs (about a pound)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons de-seeded and chopped green long hot or bell pepper  
  • 2 Tablespoons de-seeded and chopped red long hot or bell pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans 


  1. Cut the ribs into individual pieces and put them into a container.
  2. Rinse the ribs under running water, drain, and cover with fresh water. Put them in the fridge for an hour or 2, changing the water once. Drain the ribs completely and then put them back into the container.
  3. Add the sugar, salt, wine, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and white pepper to the ribs and mix until the ribs are well coated. Cover and let them marinate in the fridge overnight or a minimum of 1 hour. 
  4. Add the cornstarch to the marinated ribs and mix well until the cornstarch is dissolved. 
  5. Place the ribs into deep plates that will fit your steamer. Once you have plated the ribs, sprinkle the peppers and the fermented black beans evenly over the top.
  6. Fill the bottom pot of your steaming set with the maximum amount of water allowed and set your steaming baskets with the ribs on top. Cover with a lid and bring the water to a boil on high. 
  7. Steam for 60 minutes, or until the ribs are opaque and cooked through. Rotate the steamer inserts halfway through the cooking time, if you have more than one plate, and add more water to the steamer as needed.
  8. Test the ribs with a fork. These ribs are traditionally served tender but with some resistance. They are not fall from the bone tender. If you prefer the ribs softer, continue steaming until they are to your liking,  making sure to add enough water to the bottom pot.
  9. Serve Black Bean Spare Ribs as part of a dim sum sum menu or as a meal with a couple veggies and rice!


*These ribs will have a slight chewiness cooked for the given time. If you prefer your ribs more tender, continue cooking the ribs for another 15-20 minutes, making sure to add water as needed to the steamer.

*If you choose to use ribs that are cut into smaller pieces, decrease the steaming time to 20-30 minutes.

Keywords: dim sum, spare ribs, pork, chinese, black bean sauce, gluten free

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