Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with fermented black beans is quick and easy to make and big on flavour – this no longer has to be a dim sum only dish! πŸ™‚

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When anyone talks about ribs, I bet the word ‘steaming’ never comes up. Ribs are usually grilled, baked, smoked, deep fried, etc. However, if you ever had dim sum, you’ll know steamed meats are very common, super flavorful and delicious.


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans


I actually had steamed Chinese spare ribs a lot growing up, because this was pretty much one of the only things my mom cooked, whenever she made dinner. So trust me when I say she’s a pro at this dish, she’s has easily made this over a couple hundred times haha! This recipe is something she has passed down to me, so I may share and enjoy this now that I no longer live at home. Thanks mom! πŸ™‚


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans


One of the greatest things about steamed Chinese spare ribs is that it’s quick and easy to make and it’s big on flavours. If you don’t have a steamer it’s not really a big deal either because you can put together a makeshift one on the fly in seconds.





For this steamed Chinese spare ribs recipe, most of these ingredients can be found at a local grocery store with the exception of maybe sesame oil and fermented black beans.

Sesame oil and fermented black beans are available at Asian grocery stores or online.


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans Ingredients


For this dish, we use side ribs (aka spare ribs). If you can, ask your butcher to cut them length wise across the ribs into 1 inch strips. Then when you get home you cut these up into small 1 inch bite sized pieces. This makes it easier to eat and quicker to cook.


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans


Fermented black beans are dried salty black beans that have been fermented in salt and ginger. They are quite strong and salty so a little goes a long long way. I like to give them quick rinse to remove any excess salt – the bonus is it reconstitutes this a bit as well.


Maple syrup? What kind of shenanigans is going on here, this is not a traditional Chinese ingredient! I like to use maple syrup and honey in place of sugar when I cook. I find the sweetness is milder and it works more evenly than sugar crystals. You can use sugar in its place but put in half the amount.





So what if you don’t have a steamer? Now what? Honestly, it’s not a big deal, we can make one! Here are a few other options you can use to steam foods at home:


BAMBOO STEAMER – You will only need a pan or wok for this, preferably curved at the bottom so you can put water on the bottom without touching the bottom of the steamers. No pot lid required, the steamer has a lid. Because I am paranoid, I would recommend running the bamboo under water for a few seconds to give it a bit of moisture so it doesn’t catch on fire.


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans


METAL DOOHICKEYS – If you don’t have a bamboo steamer you might have one of these metal doohickeys? You can usually find these in an Asian kitchen store or sometimes a grocery store. They just sit in a pot with a bit of water on the bottom while the plate of food is placed on top of it. You will need a pot with a lid for this to work and you will need to make sure you don’t fill the water past it as well so the plate isn’t sitting in the water.


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans


MAKESHIFT CHOPSTICK STEAMER – Don’t have any of those things? Let’s make one! You will need a pan or wok with a curved bottom and a pair of wooden chopsticks criss-crossed along the bottom. Add enough water to fill the bottom but not touch the chopsticks, then rest the plate of foodΒ on top of the chopsticks. You will need to be careful when resting the plate on this as it might be slightly wobbly.Β You will need a lid for this method.


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans
Yes, my pan is filthy. Yes, I am aware I suck at washing dishes. hahaha!! Don’t judge!


Marination – There’s Actually a Order to It! πŸ™‚

If you’re lazy like me, you can throw all the ingredients together and marinate the meat for 15 minutes and away we go! There’s nothing wrong with that.


However, if you want to maximize your flavours, I strongly believe you should marinate the meat with just the salty sauces first and mix in the corn starch at the very end right before it goes into the steamer. This prevents the corn starch from being a barrier during the marination and absorption stage because the meats have direct contact with the salt and water to do a mini brine – so to speak.


If you’re wondering why I add a bit of water to the marinade, it’s because during the marination process, the water helps with the mini-brining process and the meat will actually absorb some of the water!


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans
After 20 minutes of marinating, add in the corn starch and mix well. You want the marinade and corn starch slurry to coat every single piece of meat.


When you are ready to put the Chinese spare ribs into the steamer, mix in the corn starch evenly over the meat and place it in a dish and then give it a drizzle of 1 tablespoon of oil and you’re good to go.



Key to Non-Rubbery Meat – Don’t Overcook It

It is very easy to overcook Chinese spare ribs, and when I tell you how long I cook mine I’m sure you’re going to freak out but hear me out before you do! πŸ˜›


A steamer can get really hot, you will be putting the meat into the steamer only when the steamer has had a chance to build up the heat and steam. Since we will be cutting the meat up into small pieces (for maximum steaming surface area) and spreading out the meat on your dish into a single layer, it will ensure a more even cooking process πŸ™‚ Do not pile it up into a mountain, or else the centre of your mountain will not get cooked. πŸ˜›


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans


When you overcook the spare ribs you lose some of the flavourful meat juices – this stuff is gold and it will just ooze right out and what you will be left with is tough, rubbery pieces of meat sitting in its meat juices. (Don’t get me wrong, the meat juices are fantastic as sauce on rice! but you want juicy meat as well. πŸ™‚ )


I cut my meat into pretty big chunks and 9 minutes was enough to cook them all the way through. So I recommend it be steamed between 8 to 10 minutes only. No more than 10 minutes unless your stove settings are very low – then maybe add 1-2 more min. You know your stove best. πŸ™‚


 Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans

Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans


This steamed Chinese spare ribs is brought to you by my awesome mom! πŸ™‚


Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans

  • Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Category: Main, Asian
  • Cuisine: Chinese


Steamed Chinese spare ribs with fermented black beans is quick and easy to make and big on flavour – this no longer has to be a dim sum only dish!


  • 1 1/2 lbs pork side ribs (spare ribs)
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (or half the amount of honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil [optional]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoonsΒ fermented black beans
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy [optional]
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (minced very finely)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon oil (to drizzle right before steaming)


  • 1 stalk green onion (finely chopped)
  • 1-2 birdseye chili (finely sliced) [optional]
  • toasted sesame seeds [optional]


Marinate the Pork

  1. Cut the pork into 1 inch bite sized pieces and place it in a bowl
  2. Rinse the fermented black beans (Optional)
  3. On a cutting board, use the sides of your knife to smush the fermented black beans gently to break their skins. Add it to the bowl
  4. Finely chop up the garlic and add it to the bowl (make sure you mince this really finely so they can cook quicker during the short steaming process)
  5. Add maple syrup, soy sauce, dark soy, sesame oil and water to the bowl and mix the marinade well with the pork. Set it aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes in room temperature.
  6. Once 15-20 minutes has passed, add the corn starch into the meat and mix well with the marinade to form a slurry to coat all the meat. (If there is not enough marinade to create a slurry, add 1 tablespoon of water to the meat and mix well until the meat is well coated with the marinade slurry, there shouldn’t be any dry clumps of corn starch.)

Steaming the Pork

  1. Using a wok or high walled pan set the bamboo steamer/metal doohickey/criss-crossed wooden chopsticks to the bottom of the pan or wok
  2. Add in water til it reaches just below the bottom of the steamer/metal doohickey/criss-crossed wooden chopsticks. You don’t want the water to touch the bottom of your plate during the steaming process.
  3. Set the stove to medium-high to high heat, cover your wok or pan with a lid (unless you are using a bamboo steamer – use the bamboo lid instead) and wait approximately 10 minutes for it to get hot and for the steam to build up in the pan.
  4. Place the meat on a plate or shallow bowl and try to layer it into a single layer
  5. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil on top of the meat evenly and put it in the steamer when it is hot
  6. Steam for 8-10 minutes (depending on how big the chunks of meat are)
  7. Once cooked, remove from steamer and add garnishes and serve hot with rice! πŸ™‚


  • You can substitute sugar in place of the maple syrup if you don’t have maple syrup or honey. Cut the amount by half if you are using sugar
  • Ask your butcher to cut the side ribs into 1 inch strips length wise. You can chop the ribs up into smaller bite sized pieces at home.
  • If you don’t have a steamer, you can create a makeshift one with a pair of chopsticks set on the bottom of the wok criss-crossed. You will need a lid for the pan for this method
  • We add water to the marinade to create a mini brine for the marination. The pork will absorb this water.
  • If you are using bamboo steamers, quickly run them under water to give them a bit of a soak before steaming


  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 640 kcal
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 916 mg
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Protein: 49 g

Keywords: chinese spare ribs, steamed spare ribs, steamed pork ribs, chinese pork ribs, black bean sauce

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites, however I provide these links to make items easier to find if you cannot purchase this locally and I would never recommend anything I don’t own myself or highly recommend. I would prefer you buy your items locally if possible to support your local shops (and chances are they are cheaper locally as well!) πŸ™‚


27 thoughts on “Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans”

  1. This actually sounds good, I have never cooked ribs this way but I have eaten them this way and they are delicious! I am going to have to give it a try.

    1. Steaming meats is quite popular in Asian cuisines! πŸ™‚ Cooks the meat super duper fast!

  2. Wow this looks delicious! What a great dinner and I know my kids would love this πŸ™‚ I really need to work on my wok skills!

  3. thank you for this recipe, I am always looking for Asian recipes that are not the usual stir fry. I will look for the black beans at the online store I use here in Europe. I have a steamer on my pressure cooker so I will try to gauge the right time

    1. I know what you mean, I always want to switch up from stir-fries as well. This would be super delish through a pressure cooker would probably take only a few minutes! πŸ˜€ Quick!

  4. This is something I have never done. It looks like a very good lesson and my mom would love these!

  5. OH.MY.GOSH this looks mouth-wateringly tantalising. I wish I had the energy and discipline to make such yummy meals at home. Well done!

    1. You can! This one is quick and easy and always made on my lazy to cook days! πŸ˜€

  6. 10 minute spare ribs? 10 minutes! I had absolutely no idea. Thanks to this I foresee a LOT of ribs in my future. I agree on the maple syrup BTW. Everything is better with maple syrup.

    Popeye’s. Lucky you. I got KFC…

    1. Ya! 10 minutes! πŸ˜€ The meat bits are in relatively small sizes so they don’t take long to cook and a steamer can get quite hot! :O Yes, maple syrup rocks – maybe it’s the Canadian in me talking here haha! I love KFC! Until I had Popeyes! πŸ˜›

  7. This is a simple savoury and yummy dish. You are so creative to sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds over it, shortly after cooked.
    it brings out the natural distinctive smell flavour of the black bean sauce. ‘ mmmmh ‘ !!! TASTY AND DELICIOUS !!! I always love this dish. But I will repeat this recipe and cook again often, and that is for sure. πŸ˜€

    THANKS, Joyce.

    1. Oh yes, I love sesame seeds on everything haha I’m so glad to hear it’s a favourite of yours! Happy eats!

  8. This is one of my favorites at dimsum. Ever since we moved, we haven’t been back to our regular dimsum spot in a while :'( I’m pinning for later so I can make it at home whenever I want! yay! πŸ˜‰

  9. sameeee. my grandma used to make this for me all the time when i was a kid, because she knew i loved it. and then i started complaining because i got tired of them. i was so ungrateful! i haven’t had these in years, especially since this isn’t a dim sum staple for me, but now you’re making me want to make these asap (:

    1. Yup, I was the saaaaaaame way haha! These are soooo easy to make so it’s a awesome way to get your ‘fix’ at home haha πŸ˜€ That’s what I do!

  10. Hi,

    Will love to try this recipe but i have a question.
    I love my ribs cooked till the meat falls off the bone kind of texture.
    With 10mins steaming time, is it possible?
    Or is this texture more chewy kind?
    If so and i want to work towards fall of the bone texture, should i steam longer or braise them instead?
    thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Pjosie!

      10 minutes of steaming won’t get you the fall off the bone texture, it will give you a slight chew and tender texture.
      I have never tried getting them fall off the bone texture before but here are a few things I would do to try to achieve this if I were to try! πŸ˜€

      1.) Use a slightly fattier cut of rib, (like back ribs). I find braising or steaming lean cuts of pork always produce a tough, chewy and rubbery meat.

      2.) Cover the plate with tin foil and steam it covered. This will trap the steam in a smaller area, and it’s almost like a braise! πŸ™‚ but it traps the moisture in, and the meat steams in a smaller and almost hotter environment.
      I actually love use the foiling technique for bbq’ing my ribs prior to smoking it! πŸ™‚ It always gets the meat practically falling off the bone πŸ™‚

      3.) If you are aiming for fall off the bone then it will definitely take more than 10 minutes. I’d aim for 30 and check it at that point if it’s not super soft, then add 10-15 minutes to it.

      When you eat this at restaurants, the meat fall off the bone and the meat is usually very tender – to achieve this, they use baking soda to marinate their meat to tenderize it to get this result. I don’t recommend it as it can sometimes create a weird tasting rib if too much baking soda is added (and the meat stays pink sometimes in the middle) and it sometimes gets overly soft.

      Hope this all helps! Let me know how it goes! πŸ™‚

    1. Definitely! I would slice them up or cut them into smaller chunks so they are easier and quicker to cook. I would adjust the marinade time to an extra 10-15 minutes and you may have to adjust the cooking time as well depending on the size you cut the pork shoulder into but I think this is a FANTASTIC idea and would taste amazing! You have inspired me to do this now at home! πŸ™‚

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