A few weekends ago, baby back ribs were on sale at our local grocery store. And with many spring and summer gatherings coming up, I decided to experiment with some crowd-pleasing rib recipes. Well, cat’s out of the bag. It was a success. These char siu-style oven baked ribs are the best blog experiment we’ve come up with in a while!
Like many of our mashups of East and West (Chinese Spaghetti Bolognese, anyone?), these char siu ribs echo what we love about two different food cultures.
In this case, we’re combining our love for sweet, savory Chinese BBQ Pork (char siu) and saucy, finger-lickin’-good, can’t-have-too-many-napkins BBQ ribs.
What Makes These Ribs Taste Like Char Siu?
For those of you who haven’t tried our char siu recipe, or who aren’t familiar with char siu at all, char siu is a type of Chinese BBQ pork, part of a pantheon of Cantonese roast meats that also includes things like Siu Yuk, or crispy roast pork belly.
The marinade for these oven baked ribs is almost exactly the same as the marinade for our char siu recipe.
The cooking process is also very similar. For char siu, which is made with boneless pork shoulder, the meat is roasted in the oven for 50 minutes. Because the ribs are on the bone, they take slightly longer to cook––1 hour.
But the resulting flavor is the same, that delicious sweet, salty, flavor in a juicy, tender rib that (in my opinion) tastes orders of magnitude better than any BBQ sauce.
A Note on Substitutions & Finding Ingredients
Luckily, in the grand scheme of difficult-to-find Chinese ingredients, these aren’t that difficult to find!
We have seen five spice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce at many regular grocery stores, so you may not even have to venture into an Asian market.
The one ingredient you may have difficulty locating is the Shaoxing rice wine. Grocery stores rarely carry it, but you can easily substitute a dry sherry cooking wine or mirin (a Japanese rice wine that is more commonly stocked in some Western grocery stores.)
Ok, now that we’ve settled that, let’s move on to the recipe!
Char Siu-Style Oven Baked Ribs Recipe: Instructions
Rinse the ribs and thoroughly pat them dry with paper towels. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to make the marinade.
Reserve about ⅓ of the marinade, and rub the ribs with the rest of it. Allow the ribs to marinate for at least 2 hours. For best results, allow to marinate overnight.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and put the ribs on a rack resting on a baking sheet (our super high tech rack was pulled out of our toaster oven. #professionals).
Pour 1 cup water into the pan, and transfer to the oven.
Roast for 30 minutes.
Remove the ribs from the oven and baste with the marinade. Return to the oven and roast for another 30 minutes.
You’ll see that the sugars in the marinade create the signature crust and perfectly, slightly charred appearance that char siu roast pork is known for:
Allow the ribs to rest for 5 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, so they don’t just immediately run out all over the cutting board when you slice them.
Carefully slice the ribs up.
These are a great pot luck addition, or as the centerpiece of a big party or gathering. They’re also good as a main course even on a weeknight, if they’ve been prepared the night before.
Char Siu-Style Oven Baked Ribs
- 3 pounds baby back ribs (1.4 kg)
- 1/4 cup sugar (50g)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 1/8 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- Rinse the ribs and thoroughly pat them dry with paper towels. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to make the marinade.
- Reserve about ⅓ of the marinade, and rub the ribs with the rest of it. Allow the ribs to marinate for at least 2 hours. For best results, allow to marinate overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and put the ribs on a rack resting on a baking sheet. Pour 1 cup water into the pan, and transfer to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove the ribs from the oven and baste with the marinade. Return to the oven and roast for another 30 minutes.
- Allow the ribs to rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve!