Sticky, sweet, mouth-watering ribs

Toby G LOVES ribs so I had to post Toby’s Chinese-style ribs this week.

  • SERVES: 4
  • PREP TIME: 30 mins
  • COOK TIME: 60 mins
  • DIFFICULTY: easy
  • IDEAL FOR: BBQ, crowd-pleaser, weekend indulgence

Toby’s Chinese-style ribs

When it comes to sticky ribs, Toby knows what he likes.

When he turned 9 yrs old he requested sticky ribs for his bday dinner.

And demolished a HUGE portion of them.

Only to have the meatsweats visit him during his slumber.

And to wake up with a sore tummy.

(We did warn him).

Howver, he wasn’t put off and has been trialling various recipes over the years.

So, this is Toby’s latest version.

They are delicious!!

And messy.

But worth the work and the sticky fingers!


Toby’s Chinese-style sticky ribs

Five-spice powder

Five-spice is an ancient spice mix used in Chinese cooking.

It combines sweet cinnamon and cloves, fennel seeds and star anise, and Sichuan pepper.

But if you don’t have the ready made stuff, here’s the recipe which makes a small jar.

  • 2 tbsp cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • 6 star anise
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn or use the *subsitute, below
  • 1 tsp whole clove

Ground Szechuan peppercorn substitute


  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander seed powder

Method to make five-spice powder

  1. Toast the whole spices in a small pan until they are aromatic and have turned a shade or two darker.
  2. Tip into a spice grinder (or use a pestle and mortar), then add the ready-ground spices and crush to a fine powder. 

Toby’s Chinese-style ribs recipe


For the ribs

  • 750gpork spareribs
  • 600ml groundnut (peanut) oil

For the marinade

  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (Toby used dry sherry)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese black rice vinegar or cider vinegar (Toby used cide vinegar)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp five-spice powder (*see above for Toby’s homemade recipe)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
  • 3 tbsp Chinese rock sugar or granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 150ml/5fl oz chicken stock
  • 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dried grated orange peel
  • 85ml/3fl oz Chinese black rice vinegar or cider vinegar


  1. Separate the spareribs into individual ribs and then cut into approximately 7.5cm long.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and marinade the ribs for about 25 mins at room temperature.
  3. Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. And when the oil is very hot and slightly smoking, slowly brown the marinated spareribs in several batches until they are brown. Drain each cooked batch on kitchen paper. (
    • Tip: Leave the cooking oil to cool then strain it through a filter if you want to re-use it when cooking pork.
  4. Put the sauce ingredients into a clean wok or frying pan.
  5. Next, bring the sauce to the boil and then reduce the heat. Add the spareribs, cover and simmer gently for about 40 mins, stirring occasionally.
  6. If necessary, add a little water to the sauce to prevent the spareribs from drying up.
  7. Skim off any surface fat, turn onto a warm serving plate and serve.


By Ken Hom from Saturday Kitchen