My best-ever Chinese BBQ ribs

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Yes, these are the so-called Chinese BBQ ribs only they have nothing to do with a grill. They are entirely cooked in a conventional oven. And they are not red.

It happened one hot hot hot summer day. I had these wonderful, meaty baby-back ribs in the fridge but couldn’t find the strength to go outside (it was 39 C) and fire up my grill. I thought of starting with a good marinade instead of my go-to dry rub. So I cut them into individual pieces, put them in a zip lock and poured in a spicy, sweet, aromatic marinade with whatever I had in my cupboard. I left them in the fridge for 24 hours hoping that the next day the thermometer would drop a degree or two.

ribs chinese 3.jpgThe next day it was 40 C. I think it was the hottest July I could remember. I gave up on the idea of grilling and preheated my oven. I put ribs and marinade in a baking pan, covered everything with foil, stashed in the oven and forgot about them for 2 hours. Then I uncovered the pan and, basted with the pan juices until they caramelized and became the most amazing fall-off-the-bone, lock-the-doors, stuff-your-face, ribs.

Since then, I have been making these at least once a month. My kids love them but I am always the guilty one with the most bones on my plate. It’s the best reason to get your hands dirty.

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  • 2 racks meaty baby-back ribs cut into individual ribs
  • 1 Tbs sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

For the marinade

  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • ¼ cup sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 thumb piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper


Put ribs in a plastic zip-lock bag. Place bag in a bowl.

Mix together all the marinade ingredients. Pour marinade into bag with ribs. Close bag tightly and refrigerate. Leave ribs to marinate for 12 -24 hours.

Preheat oven to 160 C. Put ribs and their marinade in a baking pan. Pour over ½ cup water. Cover ribs tightly with foil. Roast undisturbed for 2 hours.

Increase oven temperature to 200 C. Uncover pan and roast ribs 30 minutes longer, turning and basting with the pan juices every 7-8 minutes, until ribs are dark and caramelized and pan juices have thickened.

Serve at once sprinkled with sesame seeds and lots and lots of paper napkins.

4 thoughts on “My best-ever Chinese BBQ ribs

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