Sticky Oriental Ribs

These ribs can be cooked low and slow on the BBQ, or in the oven, and are guaranteed to be the first thing to disappear at any gathering.  Sheets of pork ribs are widely available at supermarkets these days, but I recommend visiting your local butcher.

There are a few different types of ribs, depending on which section of the rib cage they’re cut from.  I used spare ribs for this recipe, sourced from my amazing butcher friend, James, at JL Butchers  of West Byfleet, but baby back/loin ribs are just as good.

I personally like my rib meat to be falling off the bone once cooked.  My kids like them that way too, especially my 1 year old who is lacking in the dental department.

A note on preparation…

On the reverse side of the rack of ribs (boney side) there is a thin shiny membrane that needs to be removed.  It won’t do you any harm, but removing it makes eating so much more pleasant.

The easiest way to remove it requires a blunt ended knife (normal table knife) and a few sheets of paper towel.  I would normally have a picture here to help you with this bit, but I got carried away and forgot.  All you need to do is locate the area just above where one of the bones have been cut from the rib cage, preferably towards one end of the rack.  Slide the end of your knife under the shiny membrane and give it a wiggle, loosening it slightly.  Now grab your paper towel, this will give you a bit of purchase on the slippery membrane, and use it to take hold of it.  Now slowly, but with purpose, tear that membrane off the rack.  It should come away in one go.  If it doesn’t don’t worry, just loosen another section and go again.

Serves 4, but to be honest there’ll never be enough so make more!


2 racks of pork ribs, baby back or spare

2 tbsp Chinese 5 spice

3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp ground coriander

7 tbsp plum sauce

6 tbsp palm sugar (light brown sugar is fine here)

7 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ground star anise


Set the prepared ribs and 5 spice powder aside and place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan.  Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and the glaze has reduced slightly.  Make sure to keep the heat low or the sugar will burn.  Take off the heat and set aside.

Dust the prepared ribs with the 5 spice powder.  Go easy with it, you may not need the full amount listed depending on the size of your racks.

If using the BBQ or smoker, set up for indirect cooking.  You’re aiming for 225˚f/107˚c.  I like to use a couple of chunks of cherry or Apple wood with my ribs.  But use your favourite.

If using your oven, preheat to the above temperature.  If you have a large roasting tray with a rack get this handy too, otherwise it’s best to cook the ribs straight on the oven shelves.

The ribs need 3 hours, uncovered, if using meaty spares, or 2 hours for baby backs.  After this time, wrap the ribs in strong foil adding some liquid to the parcel.  I like apple juice or cider personally.  Place them back on the BBQ, smoker, or in the oven and give them a further 2 hours.  Next, unwrap them, paint on the glaze with a basting brush and cook them for a further hour, painting on more of the glaze every 15 minutes until they look like this …


We like to eat ours with a nice couscous salad, homemade coleslaw and potato salad.


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