Juicy and tender steamed spareribs with fermented black beans is a classic dim sum dish delicious on its own or with rice. A must try.
I recall with fondness, memories of my late mother and I eating at dim sum restaurants whenever I visited her in Ipoh. It was always an exciting time, especially for my children when we headed to the dim sum restaurant with my mom. My family and I enjoyed the whole experience of choosing from a wide variety of delectable dishes served in small steamer baskets and little plates.
Char siew bao and siew mai were my mom’s favourite while I loved har gao and chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll). Steamed pork ribs in black bean sauce was also one of the dishes that I looked out for when the dim sum aunties rolled their carts over to our table.
Besides the wonderful food, I loved the festive-like atmosphere filled with boisterous chatter and conversations. There was never a dull moment. It was a wonderful bonding time for the whole family. My mom was the happiest when surrounded by good food and good company as she was a very sociable person.
Till now, my children always remember that their amah bought for them large helium-filled balloons after one of those dim sum meals. How I miss her and those days.
Now, whenever I hanker after this steamed spareribs with black bean sauce, it’s not really necessary to go all the way to a dim sum restaurant as it is so easy to make it myself at home. The ingredients to marinate the rib pieces are quite flexible. Sometimes, I’ll use oyster sauce instead of light soya sauce and vice versa. Other times I add both.
The must-have ingredient for me besides the fermented black beans in this dish are the chilis as I like it to have a little heat. One to two cili padi (bird’s-eye chillies) is enough for me so that the spiciness do not overpower the dish.
Fermented Black Beans
The key ingredient here (fermented black beans), is the oldest-known food made from soybeans. A precious commodity in ancient China, they were recorded to be buried together with high ranking officials. These beans provide an earthy, salty flavor to any dish you add them to. Usually, I will mash them slightly with the back of a spoon before using but today, I left most of them whole for presentation purposes.
Here’s how to cook it
Wash the spare ribs and drain. Try to get pork rib tips or soft bones (with no bones but just cartilage) so that you won’t bite onto bones when you eat them. They are also more juicy and tender and very flavorful. Add baking powder and Shaoxing wine to the ribs and coat them well. Cover and let stand for an hour. Rinse and pat dry.
Prepare your condiments in a bowl. Add the pork ribs and massage the marinade into the pork by hand (wear a pair of disposable gloves when doing this to avoid chili burn.
To maximize the flavors of this dish, let it marinate overnight in the fridge. Doing this will also help to make the ribs softer and more flavorful.
Prepare to steam by filling a wok with about 1/3 full of water and place a steaming rack inside. Bring the water to a boil. When the water starts boiling, carefully set the plate of ribs on top of the steaming rack and cover with a lid. Steam on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.
Serve this delicious dish as dim sum or as part of a complete meal with rice.
Try this steamed pork ribs in black bean sauce recipe and let me know what you think! Don’t forget to share this post on your social media. Thanks for reading and happy cooking! 🙂
- 300 g pork rib tips (no bones spare ribs) or pork soft bones (get your butcher to chop them into bite-sized pieces)
- Spring onions (for garnishing)
- For Tenderizing:
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- For Marinate:
- 1 tbsp fermented black beans - rinsed, drained and leave whole or you can mash gently with the back of a spoon
- 1 bird's eye - chopped into small pieces (adjust amount to how spicy you'd like)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp cornflour
- 2 tsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- Tools You Will Need:
- Bamboo Steamer and Wok
- Steaming rack (if not using a bamboo steamer)
- Wash the spare ribs and drain. Add baking powder and shaoxing wine to the ribs and rub to coat. Cover and let stand for an hour.
- Wash off the baking powder thoroughly from the spare ribs. Prepare the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the spare ribs and massage the marinade into the ribs (wear a pair of disposable gloves when doing this to avoid chilli burn). Allow to marinade for at least an hour. For better results, marinate overnight in the fridge.
- When ready to steam, arrange the spare ribs in a single layer on a heatproof plate. Fill a wok with about ⅓ full of water and place a steaming rack on the wok. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, carefully place the plate of ribs on top of the steaming rack. Close the cover and steam on medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the ribs are completely cooked. Check that the water does not dry up during steaming and top up water if necessary.
- Garnish with spring onions and serve immediately on its own or with rice.
2. Leave the fermented black beans whole if you want a better presentation and clearer looking sauce.
3. You can also steam the spare ribs on low heat for up to an hour for softer texture.
4. Oyster sauce may be used to replace the light soy sauce.