Dr. Shi's Fragrant Spareribs

Serves 2- 8 (depending on what else is served)


These ribs are so finger-licking good you should roll up your sleeves before you sit down, have large and easily washable napkins at hand and finger bowls ready for the final clean-up. They're messy to eat, but a real lip-smacking treat!

The original recipe for these fragrant spareribs was given to me by Dr. Shi, a professor of Chinese literature at George Washington University with whom I worked during the summer of 1969. I have a notation on her original recipe that she gave it to me on July 25, 1969. It's been one of my treasured recipes and one that I've been reluctant to share with anyone. After 27 years of enjoying these ribs at our house, Bart has convinced me to include the recipe on this Sunday Supper home page. Over the years, we've modified the recipe to suit our evolving tastes, cutting down on the sugar and catsup and increasing the garlic and ginger. This is the 1990's version.

Next time your friends are having a barbecue, bring a batch (or 2) of these ribs as your contribution to the dinner and enjoy your friends reaction to these fragrant morsels.


Start with a whole rack of ribs:


6 TBS hoisin sauce
1 - 2 tsp five spices powder, depending on pungency the powder
3 TBS Coleman's dry mustard
3 TBS dry cooking sherry
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled, sprout removed and put through a garlic press
2 TBS very finely chopped fresh ginger root, peeled
3 tsp white sugar
6 TBS catsup
4 TBS soy sauce

Roasting the Ribs:


These ribs also blend well on a platter of any barbecued meats.


Put 1 cup of rinsed Chinese rice and 1.2 cups of cold water into a saucepan (i.e. 20% more water than rice). Cover and bring to a simmer over slow heat. Let the rice cook, undisturbed for 12-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Cucumber salad: Starting with one medium-size cucumber: Wash off the wax preservative on the skin and cut it in half lengthwise (do not peel). Scrape out the seeds from both halves and cut each half into large bite size pieces. Put the pieces into a deep bowl. In a wok or shallow pan, heat 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tsp (or more to taste) Chinese chili sauce, 2 tsp sugar, and 2 TBS rice wine vinegar. Off heat stir in 1-2 cloves finely chopped garlic. While this sauce is hot, add it to the cukes. When the cukes and sauce have cooled down, the salad is ready to serve.

Cabbage salad: Cut about 1/3 or 1/2 of a small head of round cabbage into bite-size pieces. Stir fry the pieces in peanut oil in a wok or shallow pan until they are translucent, but not fully cooked. Add 1/2 TBS dry chili flakes and stir fry over high heat for a few minutes. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and add a pre-mixed sauce made of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 2 TBS soy sauce and salt to taste. Mix the sauce with the hot cabbage. When the cabbage is cool, it is ready to serve.

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