Chinese Black Bean Sauce Spare Ribs

While the family budget has been a little tight lately, I absolutely could not resist buying a package of pork spare rib tips from Lee’s Market when I was in there the other day. It’s smaller than the Asian Food Market, but lately they have been very pricey, so I thought I’d stop in to Lee’s.

And FYI: Napa cabbage is freaking cheap there – $0.49/lb! Woo hoo! I bought one big head and one small head. I’ve come to realize that fresh veggies are so important when you are on a tight budget. The freshness really just perks me up.
Lee’s also had some discounted veggies – I scored a bag of 3-4 Japanese eggplant for $1. They are on the right of the kimchi- Albany John worked some kitchen voodoo and sauced them when they came out of the steamer. The eggplant were fine – they were a little brown on the outside, but inside they were perfect. After they were cooked you would never have known. I am totally fine with ugly produce.

I was also on an Asian store kick, and ended up going to Lee’s for kimchi ($4.99 for the smaller container) – another vegetable treat. I also figured out just what I’d do with the pork rib tips – black bean sauce! It’s one of my favorite dishes at dim sum – CCK does an excellent rendition of them. I picked up a small bottle of black bean and garlic sauce for $1.49.

I had read different methods for preparing Chinese ribs in black bean sauce – steaming and cooking in a pan. We had a lot, so I tried both. Above is the steamed version. It took a long time because I was also steaming eggplant above it and having that 2nd layer really messed with cooking times. After I removed the eggplant top layer, things went much quicker.

The sauce gathered a lot of water in the process as well. When I first started out, this was more like thickly coated nubbins of pork with sauce. After steaming and trapping some water, it became much more like the gravy you see above.

I loved how it tasted – a bit sweet, meaty, and that gravy was delicious over rice.

And here are the pork rib tips I cooked in a pan. Their sauce was much thicker and saltier, as I added some water in to help cook them, then reduced it back to about its original thickness when I felt they were cooked enough. The rib tips are a tougher cut of meat, so cooking them for a long time isn’t really going to hurt them. See the meat pulling away from the bones? Once the bones start to peek out, you know you are getting somewhere!

These Chinese black bean sauce ribs were so very rich in flavor. They had a deep saltiness, but not one that would make you reach for the water with every bite. Very umami. Incredibly meaty, pungent, and sticky.

Here’s a side by side picture – on the left is the steamed rib, and on the right is the darker pan-cooked rib. I really liked combining the two flavors – a bit of the darker one dipped in the gravy, a bite of each – such good combos! I really couldn’t decide which one I liked better – they are both such winners!

For a group – I think these would be great in a crock pot.

Chinese Black Bean Sauce Ribs:

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T vermouth
½ t ginger, minced
1 T sugar
2.5 T black bean sauce
1-2 lbs pork rib tips

Mix all ingredients and let marinate 30 minutes or longer.

For steaming:
Fill a dish with pork ribs and steam about 20 minutes. Stir half way through to ensure even cooking.

For pan-cooking:
Turn heat on medium-high. Add marinated pork rib tips and brown evenly.
Add ½ C water and turn heat down to a simmer.Cover and cook at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done, take the cover off and reduce liquid.

Note on black bean sauces:

There is a huge variation in the flavors of black bean sauces. I have had some that were good, but very pungent, so the measurment above would be too much. I like sauce that has bits of beans and the occasional whole bean in it best. I think the pureed ones are a bit too gloppy, and the ones that are all whole beans aren’t very sauce-y. I am really fond of the one I got that looked a little gloppy, but had minced pieces of black bean in it. Shoot for something in the middle. Lots of garlic never hurts either.

  1. yr a realy culinary whiz. thanks for all the tips : )FYI, SexyBeast & I are going to Hadley to Trader Joe's on saturday. woo hoo!

  2. phairhead – AAHHH!!! I’m so excited! Do you guys need company? 🙂

  3. wow! that looks delicious! I love shopping at asian markets becuase their produce are a lot cheaper. I always buy fruits and veggies there!

  4. Sharon said:

    Oh my gosh, totally delicious!!!

  5. Maryann said:

    Wow! You did really good on your shopping trip!

  6. Mari said:

    Hi, these picture made me hungry so much. Finally, I got black bean sauce in Kim’s market!

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