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Sticky Char Siu Ribs

Sticky Char Siu Ribs
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Imagine tender, juicy ribs coated in a glossy, sweet-savory glaze that clings to your fingers and begs to be licked clean. Sticky Char Siu Ribs are a tantalizing fusion of traditional Chinese barbecue flavors and succulent pork ribs. This dish takes inspiration from the beloved Cantonese char siu  and transforms it into a mouthwatering rib recipe that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue, a  family dinner, or a July 4th feast, these ribs are sure to be the star of the show. The combination of hoisin sauce, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and aromatic spices like Chinese 5 spice powder creates a marinade that infuses the meat with a rich, complex flavor. Once cooked to perfection, these ribs are irresistibly sticky and sweet. Get ready to elevate your rib game and impress your guests with this delicious, but shockingly easy, twist on a classic favorite. These ribs have been called meat candy before and only require 15 minutes (?!) of hands-on time, so let’s get into it.

ingredients for sticky char siu ribs

Char Siu Ribs Marinade

You’ve heard me sing the praises of marinades before, but please allow me to rhapsodize about them just a little bit more.  For one thing, they tenderize and add so much more flavor. What I really love about them though is how easy they make getting dinner on the table.  A few minutes of prep the night before and you wake up in the morning with the glorious feeling of not only knowing what’s for dinner, but having all of the prep already done. I repeat, you wake up and dinner is basically already made! I start by mixing all of the marinade ingredients together.

mixing sugar and salt for ribs

adding spices to marinade

adding the rest of the char siu marinade ingredients

If you want the bright red color that’s characteristic of traditional char siu, feel free to add a teaspoon of red food coloring. Your Sticky Char Siu Ribs will be just as addictively delicious either way. There is too much sugar in the marinade to dissolve by stirring alone, so the next step is to briefly heat it just long enough so that all the sugar dissolves. Heat it on medium while constantly stirring, and remove from the heat when the sugar is dissolved, you should have a glossy smooth sauce.

dissolving sugar in char siu marinade

Then I let it cool to room temperature. I reserve about a cup of it and put it in the fridge, this will be used to glaze the ribs with when they’re cooking. But first we will use the rest to marinate them. You can use either St. Louis style ribs or baby backs, it’s really a matter of personal preference. Confused about the difference? St. Louis ribs are generally meatier and often have more fat, which can make them more flavorful but they may require a longer cooking time to be done to your liking. Baby backs are typically leaner and more tender, and they cook faster due to their smaller size. St. Louis ribs tend to have more meat between the bones whereas baby back ribs have more meat on top. Both will be delicious in this recipe.

I start by rinsing the ribs and thoroughly patting them dry.

Then I use a sharp knife to pierce through the thicker silverskin on the underside of the ribs so the marinade can penetrate more thoroughly. You can also remove the silverskin, that too is a matter of personal preference. I leave it on because it’s labor intensive to remove, and it helps keep the ribs together which makes it easier to cook and serve. Some people feel removing it makes for a better eating experience, I personally don’t mind the chewy texture that it adds. You do you!

piercing skin on the underside of the ribs with a knife

pouring marinade over sticky char siu ribs

covering ribs with plastic wrap

I like to let my Sticky Char Siu Ribs marinate at least overnight. Of course two nights is even better. I flip them over in the middle so both sides are fully coated. When I’m ready to cook these bad boys, I remove them from the marinade, discarding the excess. I bake them on a shallow baking sheet lined with foil.

wrapping ribs with foil

basting ribs

It is more of an Asian style to cook ribs until they are tender, but not falling off the bone. We generally like a little chew left. But if you prefer them to be fall off the bone, bake them for another hour or so before removing from the oven. Then cook for another hour, basting every 15 minutes. They will look lusciously glazed and smell amazing when finished:

Serve with Corn Fritters, Japanese Potato SaladLychee Mai Tais, and Mango Sago for an epic summer feast your guests won’t stop raving about! Can’t wait to hear what you think of these, or to see platters of your glorious Sticky Char Siu Ribs-tag us @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations.

 

 

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recipe card photo sticky char sui ribs

Sticky Char Siu Ribs

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus marinating time)
  • Cook Time: 3-3 1/2 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: entrees
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 racks St. Louis style or baby back ribs

Marinade:

  • 1 ½ cup sugar 
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½ cup shaoxing wine
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 Tablespoon molasses
  • 12 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade by combining the sugar, salt, five spice powder, ground white pepper, sesame oil, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, molasses, garlic, and red food coloring in a medium saucepan. 
  2. Turn the heat to medium and keep mixing until you dissolve the sugar. Do not bring the marinade to a simmer. Just heat it enough to melt the sugar.
  3. Let the sauce cool to room temperature.
  4. Reserve about 1 cup of the marinade separately and store in the fridge. You will use this marinade for glazing the ribs.
  5. Rinse the ribs and thoroughly pat them dry with paper towels. Trim any excess fat. Then flip the ribs bone side up and score the underside of the ribs several times with a sharp knife through the silver skin so the marinade will penetrate more thoroughly. If you prefer, you can also remove the silverskin by grasping the edge and pulling it off.
  6. Transfer the ribs to a container and pour the rest of the marinade over the ribs making sure the ribs are evenly coated.
  7. Put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the ribs pushing down to eliminate any air pockets. Cover and allow the ribs to marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge. But for the best flavor, allow the ribs to marinate 2 days, flipping the ribs over halfway during the marinating time to ensure even absorption.
  8. Pull the ribs out of the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Put the ribs in a shallow foil covered baking tray, making sure the ribs are in one layer. Cover the ribs tightly with aluminum foil. Discard the used marinade.
  9. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and move the oven shelf to the middle.
  10. Put the ribs in the oven and bake for 1.5-2 hours, until the ribs are just starting to get tender but are still somewhat firm.
  11. Remove the ribs from the oven, uncover and pour off the fat and juices that have collected in the tray. Baste with the reserved marinade. Return to the oven and bake for another hour, basting every 15 mins. 
  12. Allow the ribs to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve!

Notes

*These ribs are tender but not fall-off-the bone soft, which is more of an American tradition with ribs. If you prefer a softer texture, cook the ribs initially for an extra hour before uncovering to start the basting.

* Any leftover ribs can be refrigerated. They keep for 5 days in the fridge. You can either heat the ribs in the oven wrapped in foil or in the microwave for a couple of minutes. 

*You can also freeze any cooked ribs. Refrigerate to defrost before heating as directed above. If you choose to microwave from frozen, lower the power and microwave gently or choose the defrost setting before heating.

Keywords: char siu, bbq, barbecue, chinese food, ribs, summer, marinades


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