America’s Test Kitchen Recipe: Sticky Spareribs with Chinkiang Vinegar

America’s Test Kitchen Recipe: Sticky Spareribs with Chinkiang Vinegar

Kevin and Jeffrey Pang’s new cookbook, “A Very Chinese Cookbook: 100 Recipes from China and Not China (But Still Really Chinese)” (America’s Test Ktichen, $35), gathers a wide array of tempting dishes, from popular street food to family dishes.

This particular recipe comes from Shanghai, where Catherine Pang — Jeffrey’s wife and Kevin’s mother — is from. Catherine’s great-grandmother used to make these pork ribs, but by the time the family reconnected decades later in New York City, the older woman had forgotten how to make the dish.

“Catherine and I eventually worked out the recipe, and it’s become a favorite,” Jeffrey writes. “But that’s not what’s important. The lesson is that if there’s someone you care about, don’t leave anything— whether a recipe or how you truly feel — unsaid.”

The recipe is below. You’ll find a YouTube tutorial for in online, as well, at Hunger Pangs.

Sticky Spareribs with Chinkiang Vinegar 鎭江糖醋排骨

Serves 4


1½ pounds pork riblets, trimmed, cut between bones into individual ribs

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) crushed rock sugar

1 (2‐inch) piece ginger, sliced into thin rounds

1/2 cup Chinese black vinegar

1/3 cup Shaoxing wine

2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

1½ teaspoons chicken bouillon powder (optional)

1½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil

“A Very Chinese Cookbook” by father-and-son coauthors Kevin and Jeffrey Pang shares a collection of more than 100 recipes aimed at making Chinese cooking more accessible for home cooks. (Courtesy America’s Test Kitchen) 

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted


Bring ribs and 2 quarts cold water to a boil in a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or large Dutch oven over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drain ribs and rinse well, then pat meat dry with paper towels.

Heat empty wok over high heat until just smoking. Reduce heat to medium-high, drizzle vegetable oil around perimeter of wok and heat until just smoking. Add rock sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar has melted and is amber colored, about 1 minute. Add ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir in ribs, ½ cup water, vinegar, Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce and bouillon powder, if using, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until ribs are just tender but still have slight chew, 15 to 20 minutes.

Related Articles

Restaurants, Food and Drink |

America’s Test Kitchen Recipe: Cold Sesame Noodles from ‘A Very Chinese Cookbook’

Restaurants, Food and Drink |

Comfort food: 5 soup recipes are the perfect warmup for winter

Restaurants, Food and Drink |

New Year’s Resolutions: How to become a better home chef, according to Amanda Haas

Restaurants, Food and Drink |

Easy, healthy home cooking: Roasted cauliflower with chimichurri

Restaurants, Food and Drink |

Easy, healthy home cooking: Grilled skirt steak with chimichurri recipe

Uncover, increase heat to high and vigorously simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and coats pork, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in sesame oil and pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve.

Note: These ribs aren’t tender to the bone; they have a purposeful chew. Eating them involves a bit of mouth maneuvering to remove the bones and cartilage. But that’s the joy of the dish. Pork riblets are spareribs cut flanken-style, across the bone, into 1- to 2-inch-wide strips. They are sold in Asian markets and elsewhere; check with your butcher. Chinkiang (Chinese black) vinegar and rock sugar give the ribs a complex, subtly earthy sweet-and-sour flavor.

— Kevin Pang and Jeffrey Pang, “A Very Chinese Cookbook: 100 Recipes from China and Not China (But Still Really Chinese)” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35)

For more food and drink coverage
follow us on Flipboard.