September 4, 2014

Wuxi Spareribs 無錫排骨

chinese, pork, recipe, spareribs, wuxi, Wuxi Spareribs, 無錫排骨

This is my dish, this is me:  Wuxi Spareribs!   Hee, hee!  This is a famous dish from my hometown, Wuxi 無錫 in the province of Jiangsu 江蘇, where my 爸爸 was born and grew up and where my ancestors lived peaceably for generations before the upheavals of the twentieth century tore them up and threw them, topsy-turvy, all over the place.  

The famous cuisine of Jiangsu is known for its wonderful red braising, a star combination of soy sauce and sugar, slowly cooked down and caramelized into sweet, meltingly tender meat dishes. I grew up on this stuff!  Pots and pots of delicious red braised meats...yummilicious!  (uh, oh homesick now!)  

The star of the meaty bunch is this absolutely delectable Wuxi Spareribs, or 無錫排骨, tender, almost melting off the bone meat enrobed in a glossy thick gorgeous herb infused soy based sauce.

Wuxi Spareribs, spareribs, pork, chinese, recipe, wuxi,  無錫排骨
The beautiful Lake Tai  太湖

For me, making and eating these Wuxi Spareribs always gets me to missing my dearest 爸爸 (these spareribs were his favorite!) and to remember one of the few stories he told us from his youth growing up in the (then) gracious old town of Wuxi. (Of course nowadays Wuxi's wealth is coming from industry which naturally means rampant pollution and lots of tall ugly modern buildings.)  
The town lies adjacent to the large, magnificent famous Chinese lake called Lake Tai, or 太湖.  My 爸爸 grew up swimming in the waters of this lake.  

One fine day, there was a dare amongst the boys (boys will be boys!) to swim to the far shore, which is quite far as Lake Tai is big!  With a young boy's bravado, my 爸爸 decided to go for it.  He swam and swam and swam.  Finally somewhat close to the opposite shore he felt the last of his strength leave him and he began to sink.  He sank all the way to the bottom of the lake and, well, that was almost it for my 爸爸!  

But with his trademark stubbornness and logical mind he decided that if he couldn't swim to the shore he would walk there.  So he walked up to the shore from the lake bottom and saved himself from drowning!

Wuxi Spareribs, spareribs, pork, chinese, recipe, wuxi,  無錫排骨
Changchun Bridge, Taihu Lake in Wuxi - Ain't it gorgeous?

So that's why I say that this dish is me, I guess.  Sometimes some foods just end up having a certain significance in your life.  For me, Wuxi Spareribs is my skinny 爸爸 in long ago Wuxi, a brash headed smart young kid and also me, his stubborn skinny Chinese daughter growing up who loved him so very much.

Wuxi Spareribs, spareribs, pork, chinese, recipe, wuxi,  無錫排骨

If you want to make this dish, be prepared for a long, low heat, slow braising to achieve the just almost but not falling off the bone tenderness.  Other than that, this Wuxi Spareribs is pretty easy to make and a great kind of dish for parties and special dinners.

 It looks spectacular (way better in real life cuz red braised dish are really hard to photograph!), looks like you spent a lot of time and effort on it, tastes divine and everyone loves a finger lickin' good piece of rib!
Wuxi Spareribs Recipe 無錫排骨
(Prep time: 2 mins  Cook time: 1 hour 10 mins)



Slice the ribs to separate if not yet separated.  Add 2 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp rice wine to ribs and marinate for 30 mins.

Heat a pot that can snugly fit your ribs, then add oil.  Immediately add ginger.  Stir until fragrance rises, add spring onion and stir until fragrance rises.  Add the ribs and stir fry over medium high heat until golden brown on all sides.  (You may want to do this a few ribs at a time if your pot is pretty snug.)

Add remaining 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 cup rice wine, star anise, cinnamon stick, and enough stock to cover ribs.  When pot is brought to a boil, lower the heat to the lowest possible and cook, covered, for approx. 1 hour.  Be sure to check your pot's water level often and add a bit of boiling water if necessary to keep your ribs mostly covered in liquid.  

Once the ribs are tender enough to be poked through with a chopstick, add the sugar to taste and the dark soy sauce.  Cook, uncovered, for another 5-10 minutes at low heat, letting the sauce cook down until thick, glossy and clinging to the ribs.  The ribs should be almost melting off the bone at this stage.  Arrange on serving plate, pour sauce over and serve!  Hope you like our Wuxi Spareribs!



  1. Growing up on spareribs with black bean sauce, I was eager to try this recipe. The only problem is there wasn't enough ribs in your recipe! These ribs are great as an alternative to barbecue as an appetizer or even for a picnic. The only problem is there's never enough to go around! Double the recipe and have lots of napkins on hand.

    1. I have to admit it, you're probably right! So double away! ~ellen

  2. Reading the post and looking at the pictures made salivate, so I had to make this dish. I like spicy food and added a few chili peppers to the braising liquid. I agree about doubling the recipe!

    1. Nothing like drooling over food, eh? The chili pepper idea is interesting, we may have to try that! ~ellen

  3. Adding a few crushed garlic cloves wouldn't hurt, either. Pork+chilis+garlic=yum!

  4. Thank you for the recipe. Anyone know if I could use an instant pot or a high pressure cooker for this recipe?

    1. It will take 25-30 mins in high pressure cooker ~ellen

    2. Thank you for the tip!