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The Shun Lee Cookbook by Michael Tong
In Canton and Hong Kong, Chefs traditionally barbecued duck, goose, and pork, but it wasn't until Cantonese chefs opened restaurants in the United States in the early 1920s that they began to barbecue spareribs to appeal to their American customers. "Barbecued" may not be the proper term, as that means slow-cooked, smoke-infused meat, and these ribs are roasted in an oven. By roasting the ribs on a rack over water, the steam prevents the fat dripping off the ribs from smoking.
Makes 4 servings


Barbecued Spareribs Recipe


• One 2½ -pound rack spareribs
• Scant 3/4 cup ketchup
• 1/3 cup sugar
• Two 1-inch cubes red fermented bean curd, drained and mashed, optional
• 2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
• 2 tablespoons ground bean sauce
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 tablespoon peeled and minced garlic
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
• 2 tablespoons honey


1. Lightly score the meaty part of the ribs in a 1-inch diamond pattern. Turn the rack over and nick the membrane at the edge of the rack. Holding the membrane with a kitchen towel, pull it off the bones. Place the ribs in a dish or pan large enough to hold them in a flat layer, and set it aside.

2. Whisk the ketchup, sugar, red fermented bean curd if using, rice wine, bean sauce, egg, garlic, baking soda, salt, five-spice powder, and 1 tablespoon of the honey in a medium bowl until smooth (the baking soda, which is used as a tenderizer, will make the sauce foam). Pour the sauce over the ribs. Using a rubber spatula, rub the sauce into both sides of the ribs. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, turning the ribs after 30 minutes.

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F. Place a broiler rack inside a broiler pan or large roasting pan. Oil the broiler rack and fill the pan with 1/2 inch of water. Arrange the ribs on the rack, meaty side up, reserving the sauce left in the dish. Roast until the top begins to darken to medium red-brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the ribs over and spread with 1/2 cup of the reserved sauce (discard the remaining sauce). Reduce the temperature to 375°F, and continue cooking until the bony side of the ribs begins to darken to medium red-brown, about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to 500°F. Turn the ribs again so that the meaty side is up. Roast until the sauce is darkened but not burned and the meat is tender, about 20 minutes. (The ribs can be cooked 1 day in advance, cooled, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated. Reheat the unwrapped ribs in a preheated 400°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)

4. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, and brush both sides with the remaining 1 tablespoon honey. Slice the ribs into individual pieces, and serve.

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