Honey Garlic Ribs are a standard on almost every westernized Chinese restaurant menu. There are endless permutations on the theme, of course, but the basic requirements are that they be garlicky and sticky sweet. One characteristic they do share is that virtually none of them actually contain honey as an ingredient, and that the sweetness invariably comes from plain-old sugar. The following recipe keeps very much to that tradition and will let you easily reproduce your own version of the ever-popular Restaurant-Style Honey Garlic Ribs.
Choosing the Ribs for Honey Garlic Ribs
The cut you see above is actually what are often known as ‘Riblets’, which are the trimmed edges of rib rack and contain much more cartilage than bone. This is actually what you will get in many restaurants when you order this dish, even though they are actually described improperly on the menu as being Honey Garlic Spareribs.
If you like, you can certainly use the more expensive spareribs, or baby-back ribs, but the results you get with the riblets will be more like those you get from many, many Westernized Chinese restaurants, and every bit as good.
If you do decide to purchase Riblets, then look for cuts that are easy to chop into mostly uniform sections as above. Sometimes, the pieces you get in a package of riblets can be very irregular in shape (lots of triangular pieces or pieces with projections etc.), and contain a lot of heavy bone. Frequently, these packages will include chunks of the sternum, or other bony parts, and they will be difficult to cut to appropriate size.
The Basic Method
The ribs for this recipe are marinated with pepper and garlic before cooking, but you can omit the actual marination and just season with white pepper and a little garlic salt if you are pressed for time.
Browning the ribs first is also a step you can omit, but you really shouldn’t skip this as the caramelization and Maillard reactions improve the flavor of the meat in the finished dish, and you can also get rid of a lot of fat that would otherwise end up in the finished dish.
The ribs, along with some onions are simmered together in a braising medium of stock, vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Typically, you will cook for up to an hour until the ribs are nicely tender, at which point, the dish can be served with lots of delicious sauce to spoon over rice. Alternatively, the sauce can also be reduced at the very last minute until it thickens considerable and just leaves a heavy glaze of the meat.
Restaurant-Style Honey Garlic Ribs
- 1 lb Ribs cut into 1” – 2” sections;
- 2 tbsp. Garlic Paste;
- 1/3 cup Sugar this is very sweet, cut down to ¼ cup, if you like;
- 1 pinch Pepper;
- 1 cup Chicken Stock;
- 1 tbsp. White Vinegar;
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce;
- ½ cup finely sliced Onion.
- Toss the Rib sections with the pepper and 1 tablespoon of the garlic paste and let them marinate for a few hours or overnight.
- Place the ribs in a baking pan and bake them in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about thirty minutes or so until they are nicely browned and have thrown off some of the excess fat.
- Drain the fat from the ribs then toss them with the onions in a suitable baking dish.
- Mix together the stock, sugar, vinegar, soy and remaining garlic paste and pour it over the ribs.
- Bake the ribs in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce nicely bubbling.