Salt and pepper spare ribs recipe

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serves: 2
Skill: easy
Cost: cheap
Prep: 2 hr
Cooking: 3 hr

These salt and pepper spare ribs are a classic Chinese restaurant favourite that can be made time and time again. The secret to their melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and crispy texture is to cook them twice. First, slow-cook them in a slow cooker or casserole dish in a low oven, then toss them in salt and spices and deep-fry them. Make these as a tasty starter and marinate for 2 hrs using Chinese rice wine and light soy sauce for an extra delicious flavour. Cooking these ribs on a low heat for a long period of time makes them fall off the bone. They’re finger licking good!

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  • 1 rack pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
  • For the spice coating:
  • 1tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • ½tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • For the marinade:
  • 1tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • Freshly ground ground black pepper


  • Grind all the ingredients for the spice mix in a coffee grinder to a powder.

  • Meanwhile prepare the marinade by mixing half the spice mix and the marinade ingredients in a freezer bag or bowl. Add the ribs and leave in the fridge for at least 2hrs, or overnight.

  • Add a little water to a slow cooker and cook the ribs and their marinade on low for 2-3hrs, until the meat is very tender, almost falling off the bone. If you don’t have a slow cooker, put the ribs and a little water in a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid and put them in the oven at 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 for the same length of time.

  • Drain the ribs and pat dry. Toss again in the other half of the spice mixture to coat.

  • Fill a large frying pan or wok with sunflower oil to a depth of 2cm and heat on the hob. When the oil is smoking hot, deep fry the ribs in batches for 1-2 mins. Drain on kitchen paper. Transfer to a plate and serve.

Top tip for making Salt and pepper spare ribs

These ribs are great with egg fried rice, made by chopping up an omelette and stir-frying in a little oil with finely chopped onions and pre-cooked cold rice.

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