While growing up, it wouldn’t be a complete Chinese take-out meal in the Eisner household if there wasn’t a red, foil-lined bag filled with huge, juicy spare ribs in a sweet, savory and smokey sauce. This Cantonese version of barbecue ribs is known as char siu-style (or Chinese-style spareribs). This completely sensational and simple recipe will have you making my version of this sauce with accessible ingredients but you can save more time and buy it pre-made (see Jeff’s Tips) – which will also make the recipe only 3 ingredients!
- 2-6 pounds (up to 3 full racks) of St. Louis ribs (suggested), spareribs OR baby back ribs (pork loin back ribs), unseasoned
- 1 (64-ounce) bottle of apple juice (NOTE: You can halve this or even reduce to only 2 cups. If you use more, the ribs will be more infused with sweetness but will take a bit longer to come to pressure)
- Sesame seeds, for topping (optional)
The Char Siu Sauce (for up to 2 racks of ribs – half or double if needed. See Jeff's Tips):
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or sherry
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (any kind)
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
- ¼ teaspoon red food coloring (optional, strictly for color)
- Bend each rack of ribs you’re using into a coil so they fit in the liner pot, resting against the perimeter of the pot. A 6-quart should be able to handle up to 2 racks of ribs, while the 8-quart can handle 3 full racks. The 3-quart maybe be able to fit 1 rack. If you wish to cut each rack in half before inserting for easier removal when cooked (they’ll be super tender), feel free to do so. Add the apple juice to the pot.
- Secure the lid, move the valve to the sealing position, hit Cancel and then hit Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 30 minutes for 5-6 pounds/1.5-3 racks of ribs OR 25 minutes for 2-4 pounds/1 rack. When done, allow a 5-minute natural release followed by a quick release. (NOTE: If you’re adding the entire bottle of apple juice you add to the pot, it may take up to 20-30 minutes to come to pressure. To that point, if it splatters while releasing because of all the juices, no big deal. Just throw a dish towel over the nozzle to keep the splatter at bay).
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the Char Siu Sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside.
- The ribs will be super tender. Use either two sets of tongs, serving forks or one of each to carefully transfer them from the pot to a baking sheet with wire racks on top or lined with parchment paper, bone-side down. (Don’t stress if the rack splits in half - it’s totally fine).
- Generously brush the Char Siu sauce all over the tops of the ribs until fully coated. They should be super saucy!
- For A (Strongly Suggested) Caramelized Finish: Pop the tray with the ribs in a preheated oven on broil and let roast for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it as all ovens vary. The sauce will caramelize onto the ribs, giving it a slightly charred edge. When done, remove the ribs from the oven and generously brush more sauce onto them.
- Top with the optional sesame seeds. Using a sharp knife, slice the rack of ribs in between each bone (saucing the edges, if desired). Grab lots of napkins and enjoy!
While I love my version of Char Siu sauce, if you don't wish to make your own and to save on some time and ingredients, you can simply use a jarred Char Siu sauce instead, found online or many markets.