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Chinese Five Spice Ribs Have Incredible Flavor

A plate of ribs garnished with chopped scallions

They make a great appetizer!

These super flavorful Asian inspired ribs can be served as a main dish, but I like them even better as an appetizer for a party when cut into half size riblets. This recipe for Chinese five spice ribs uses the classic aromatic Chinese spice mix, five spice powder.

fortune cookie

The demise of the fortune cookie

While I was fine tuning this recipe and seeking inspiration, I worked my way through Chicago’s Chinatown, hitting the Asian groceries (deep fried guppies anyone?), and getting to know the local restaurant delivery boys.

Although the rib recipes varied quite a bit, one thing has been constant. Has anyone noticed that fortune cookies no longer tell a fortune? They no longer tell us what the future has in store for us. They no longer say “You will…”, they say “You are…”.

Sadly, fortune cookies now tell us meaningless aphorisms probably written by out of work speechwriters whose candidates have lost. A friend calls them “Proverb Cookies.” The only real fortune I have dug out of a cookie lately said, and I swear I am not making this up, “Within the coming 5 months you will find 3 missing socks.” Alas, it’s been at least a year. Never happened. Here are some other actual “fortunes” that I’ve gotten.

  • “He who hurries cannot walk with dignity.” Tell that to my wife.
  • “A happy family is important to you.” I’ve seen better T-shirts. Like “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
  • “Preparation is important.” Clearly stolen from the Boy Scouts.
  • “Fashion is temporary. Invest in Passion.” Passion Communications is a privately held Canadian Corporations. Thanks a lot.
  • “Strength and sensitivity are not opposites.” Maybe that’s why I cry at sad movies.”You find beauty in ordinary things. Keep this trait.” Actually, this one came in handy. It saved my rock collection from my wife’s garage sale.

I want to see fortune cookies that say things like this:

  • “Take the train tomorrow unless you want to ruin the new paint job on your car.”
  • “Your tech stocks are going to tank.”
  • “No need to water your garden next week. Get to know your neighbor, Noah.”
  • “Make Chinese Five Spice Riblets tonight. and you might get lucky.”

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Chinese Five Spice Riblets Recipe


A plate of ribs garnished with chopped scallions
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
2.96 from 23 votes
Perfectly flavored with five spice powder then smoked until tender, these Asian inspired pork ribs are a sure fire hit for dinner or cut into smaller riblets for a mouthwatering party appetizer. In this recipe, the Chinese five spice riblets are marinated and grilled but they can also be cooked in the deep fryer for extra crunch. You can use any cut of ribs you like. Cook them whole, or cut the slab in half lengthwise, cutting through the bones with a band saw to make riblets. Your butcher can do this for you.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Difficulty: Easy

Makes:

1 slab St. Louis cut spareribs
Servings: 3

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Marinating time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

Ribs and Marinade

  • 1 slab ribs (any cut)
  • 3 cups rice wine such as sake or Shaoxing (yes, I know they are very different but they work)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • cup unseasoned rice vinegar (or 1/4 cup distilled vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons  Chinese five spice powder  (click the link for a recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons hot pepper sauce for mild heat (use more if you like it hot)

Sauce

Garnish

  • ¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted lightly in a dry 12-inch frying pan
  • 3 scallions, chopped into rings
Notes:
About the ribs. If possible, ask your butcher cut the slab in half lengthwise with a bandsaw so that you have two mini slabs with bones that are only about 2 to 3 inches long. If you can't get this done by the butcher, just cut the slab into individual bones.
About the rice wine. If you can't find it you can use any good dry white wine.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Skin and trim the ribs. Cut them into individual bones.
  • Place the ribs in zipper bags, the bigger the better. Mix the 3 cups of rice wine, sugar, rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons five spice powder, soy sauce, and hot pepper sauce thoroughly in a large bowl with a spout, then pour it over the ribs, dividing it evenly among the bags. Submerge the ribs in the marinade and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Remove the ribs from the marinade and drain them in a strainer or colander, but do not rinse or dry them.
  • Fire up a grill in 2 zones so the indirect side is 225°F. When it is up to temp, put the ribs in the indirect zone. Do not place directly over flame or coals or they will burn.
  • While the ribs are cooking, make the sauce. Combine two tablespoons of five spice powder, black pepper, sugar, and ⅓ cup rice wine in a pan and heat it over low flame until it burbles. This will take only a few minutes. Turn it off and then bring it back up just before removing the ribs. The ribs should take about 90 minutes. Take a bite to see if they are done to your satisfaction.
  • Once grilled, dunk them in the sauce or move the riblets to a serving platter and pour just enough sauce to lightly cover them. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chopped green onions on top.

Nutrition

Calories: 755kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1159mg | Potassium: 428mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 67g | Vitamin A: 188IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 243mg | Iron: 7mg

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Published On: 2/26/2012 Last Modified: 6/24/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


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