Ok, this isn’t necessarily a recipe from my culture or from my family, but Chinese-American food played a huge part in my childhood. If you are Jewish you probably can relate, but to those who aren’t aware of the love affair between us Jews and Chinese food, here is a quick run down.
First, Chinese cuisine rarely uses milk in their dishes. This makes it very easy for Jews who keep kosher, to have great take out and not have to worry about breaking kosher law. Second, Chinese neighborhoods in New York were usually located very close to Jewish neighborhoods and Chinese restaurants welcomed Jewish customers with open arms when other establishments would discriminate against Jews. Third, and probably most important, Chinese restaurants are open on Sunday and Christmas! So, though it may be a stereotype….it’s one built on fact. I spent just about every Thursday when I was a child at my grandparents favorite Chinese restaurant. We went so much that the owners that we had our own table and when I learned a song in Chinese in elementary school, the entire staff came out to hear me sing it (against my will of course, thanks Grandma. sigh.)
So, Chinese-American food is complete comfort food from my childhood and when I though about what dish would be perfect for my first conversion to the Instant Pot, it was a no brainer…..spareribs! (Now, I have to say that my family growing up did not keep kosher. However, many Jewish people do and so pork ribs would be off limits.) If you have ever made ribs in the IP you know how amazing they are. I refuse to make BBQ ribs any other way other than in the IP. However, unlike BBQ ribs, Chinese Style Spareribs are braised in the sauce rather than cooked on the trivet above the liquid. Using ingredients from America’s Test Kitchen recipe, I was able to tweak the recipe to work in the Instant Pot and not get a burn notice, but still come out even better than the ribs you would get from even the best Chinese Take-out.
Instant Pot Chinese Style Spareribs
Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Chinese-Style Barbecued Spareribs
- 5 inch piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced thin
- 8 Garlic Cloves, peeled
- 1-2 (about 3.5-5 lbs total) racks of St. Louis Ribs cut into individual portions
- 1/2 cup Cooking Sake or Chinese Rice wine (you can substitute a dry sherry wine)
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup Honey
- 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce
- 3/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 2 tsp powdered Chinese Five Spice (if you don’t have 5 Spice, you can make your own mixture by combining 1 tsp ground cinnamon and ground star anise, 1/4 tsp crushed fennel seed and ground pepper, and 1/8 tsp ground cloves)
- 1 tsp Ground White Pepper
- 1 tsp Red Food Coloring, liquid (this is optional, but it gives the ribs that traditional red color. If you only have the paste form of food color used for baking, you can mix a dab of it with water.)
- 2 Tbl Sesame oil
Peel the Ginger and the Garlic. (To peel Ginger, you can use a spoon to scrape the skin off.)
Add the 8 Garlic Cloves and the sliced Ginger into your food processor and pulse 10 to 12 times until you get a a fine minced mixture. Take the instant Pot liner out of the Instant Pot housing and add the mixture into your Instant Pot Liner.
To the Instant Pot liner with the Ginger/Garlic mixture, add 1 cup Water, 1 cup Honey, 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce, 1/2 cup Rice Wine, 3/4 cup Soy Sauce, 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice, 1 tsp Ground White Pepper, and 1 tsp Red Food Coloring.
Whisk this all together well in the Instant Pot liner. (it is very important to scrape the bottom while you whisk so you incorporate and dissolve the thick Honey and Hoisin sauce into the liquid. If any of the Honey or Hoisin is left undissolved on the bottom of the pot, it will burn.) Place the liner back into the Instant Pot housing.
Prepare the ribs by carving the ribs into individual portions. (You do not need to remove the silver skin on the back of the ribs.)
Add the ribs into the Instant Pot and make sure to stir and submerge the ribs as much as possible.
Lock the Instant Pot Lid into place and make sure the valve is set to “Sealed” position. Pressure Cook for 18 minutes on High. Once it’s done, allow to Natural Release completely. This will take about 20 minutes. Take the ribs out and place them into a bowl and cover with foil.
Set up a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain the braising liquid that is in the Instant Pot. Using a spatula, press the solids that are left in the strainer to get out all of the liquid and flavor.
Allow the liquid to sit for 10 mins so the grease rises to the top. Using a spoon, skim off the grease and oil and throw it away. It’s ok if you don’t get all of it. Just get as much as you can.
Pour the liquid back into the Instant Pot and mix in 2 Tbl Sesame oil. Press the “Saute” button. Allow the liquid to come to a boil and then boil for approximately 25 minutes until it reduces to a thicker consistency. Stir occasionally and don’t allow it to burn or over reduce.
Once the liquid has thickened to where it can lightly coat the back of a spatula, turn off the Instant Pot and remove the liner and place on a towel or pot holder. (You could leave the liner int he Instant Pot housing, but I find it makes a mess during the next few steps.)
Add the ribs back to the thickened liquid a few at a time. Coat the ribs with the liquid and then remove to a foil lined baking sheet. The ribs will be very tender so make sure to do this gently so the ribs don’t fall apart. If a few do, that’s ok.
Set your oven to Broil – High, and broil the ribs in the oven for about 3 minutes until they start getting caramelized and crispy on the ends. Flip them over and broil on the other side for another 3 minutes. Make sure to keep watch because they will burn quickly.
Serve with some diced green onion and if you like you add extra sauce. Buen Provecho!