Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Sweet Garlic Ribs

Although I enjoy experiencing all sorts of different foods from that varied cuisines of China, I also enjoy the western variety of ‘Chinese’ food from time to time and I have to confess to a certain weakness for the ubiquitous ‘combo’ specialty known as ‘Honey Garlic Ribs’. In truth, sugar, rather than honey, is used in just about every restaurant offering you are likely to encounter but that is actually fine by me as I have tried made with real honey on a number of occasions and wasn’t all that keen on the result.

Garlic ribs have to be pretty bad before I won’t eat them, but I am least fond of those cooked in copious amounts of sauce and braised for so long that, not only is the meat falling from the bone, but it has lost all of it’s chewy texture and flavor. This particular post will feature a version that is closely derived from a popular Chinese preparation in which fresh ribs are braised with rock sugar and fairly small amounts  of either water or stock to which soy sauce is added. My twist on the traditional kind uses regular white sugar, ribs that are previously browned, and just a little so

The Ingredients

  • 3/4lb pre-browned Pork Spareribs, cut into 1” lengths (about 24, in all);
  • 2 tbsp. Peanut oil (or other neutral flavor cooking oil);
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. Sugar;
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. Soy sauce;
  • 1 tbsp. Vinegar;
  • 1 tbsp. minced Garlic;

You can brown the ribs by quickly pan-frying them or else popping them into a hot oven, or under the broiler briefly. Just cook them until the meat is longer pink and don’t overdo it. The beauty of this is that you can brown a large batch and divide them up to save for future uses. They are very handy to have in the fridge or freezer and can be used for this recipe, or all sorts of steamed preparations.

The Method

Stir the minced garlic with the ribs in a small bowl and leave to sit for at least an hour.

When you are ready to cook, heat a pan over a moderately high flame and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the sugar and the soy and let it all come to a bubbling boil.


Apologies… I forgot to take a picture of the final step.

As soon as the sauce begins to thicken, add the ribs and stir until they are heated through. Add the vinegar and continue to stir until the sauce is just a glaze over the ribs. Plate and serve.

The Verdict

It is difficult not to achieve a decent result with this very simple little recipe and I make this quite often in one way or another. For variations you can add a little shredded ginger, replace the vinegar with rice wine, or even use a dash of sesame oil in place of some of the plain variety. If you like your ribs just a little bit more tender than I prefer, you can also add a half cup or so of water along with the ribs and let them braise for a bit longer. Enjoy…




I am a lawyer by profession and my practice is Criminal... I mean, I specialize in Criminal law. My work involves travelling on Court circuits to remote Arctic communities. In between my travels I write a Food blog at

10 thoughts on “Sweet Garlic Ribs

  1. I don’t know this is western version of Chinese food. I think nowadays most of the Chinese dishes are modified. I think your recipe is very Chinese …perhaps not this type of vinegar. There is a recipe called 糖醋排骨,using a different type of vinegar, and the taste is very strong.

    1. This probably is more of a 糖醋 dish.

      Did you mean 香醋? Nowadays, that seems to get translated as Balsamic Vinegar which is a very strong taste. It is a lot like Chinkiang Black Vinegar (镇江香醋), but the taste of taste of that is more subtle.

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