Steamed Black Bean Spareribs
Recipe courtesy of Andy Liang for Food Network Kitchen

Steamed Black Bean Spareribs

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 15 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Steamed black bean spareribs (si zap zing pai gwat in Cantonese) are popular at dim sum restaurants but they are a dinnertime go-to in my family. With just a little marinating and simple steaming you have a tasty dish that is easy to round out with rice or noodles and blanched or stir-fried vegetables. (You can prepare them while the ribs cook.)  Fermented black beans are the primary flavoring agent here, providing a unique savory saltiness. Pork sparerib tips come from the ends of spareribs that are butchered to yield St. Louis ribs. The ones sold in Asian markets tend to be about 1 inch thick, while the ones at many grocery stores are about 2 inches thick. If you use thinner rib tips, reduce the steaming to 15 minutes. If you can only find whole spareribs, ask the butcher to cut them crosswise into 2-inch-thick pieces.



  1. If the sparerib tips come in a slab, cut them into individual ribs.
  2. Toss together the ribs, light soy sauce, fermented black beans, cooking wine, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon white pepper in a large bowl. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. 
  3. When the ribs are almost ready, prepare a steamer setup with a rack in a large pot or wok (see Cook’s Note). Add enough water to the pot so it reaches just below the rack, cover the pot and bring to a boil.  
  4. Add the cornstarch and oil to the ribs and mix well. Place the ribs in a single layer on a large heatproof rimmed plate or shallow bowl that fits inside the pot. Sprinkle the ribs with the chiles. 
  5. Place the plate on the rack in the pot, cover and steam until the ribs are opaque on the exterior and cooked through, 25 to 28 minutes (see Cook’s Note). Garnish with the scallions and carefully remove the plate from the pot using tongs or oven mitts.  

Cook’s Note

This recipe doesn’t require a steamer basket, although you can certainly use one if you have it. You just need a pot big enough to accommodate a rack and a large heatproof rimmed plate or shallow bowl while still leaving enough space around the perimeter of the dish so it can be picked up using tongs or oven mitts. Check the water level in the pot occasionally, adding more water if needed.