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close up of Chinese Steamed Spare Ribs garnished with green onions and sesame seeds
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4.95 from 19 votes

Chinese Steamed Spare Ribs with Black Beans

Chinese steamed 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!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Asian, Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 640kcal
Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks


  • 1 ½ lbs pork side ribs (spare ribs)

Spare Rib Black Bean Sauce Marinade


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


Marinate the Spare Ribs

  • Cut the pork into 1 inch bite-sized pieces and place it in a bowl
  • Rinse the fermented black beans in a bowl of water for a few seconds to reconstitute them.
  • Drain the fermented black beans and place them on a cutting board.
    Use the sides of your knife or the back of a spoon to smush the fermented black beans gently to break their skins and flatten them. Add them into the bowl with the pork ribs.
  • Finely mince the garlic and add it into the bowl with the pork ribs
  • Add maple syrup (or sugar), soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and water to the bowl and mix the marinade well with the pork.
    Set it aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes at room temperature.
  • Once it has marinated for 15-20 minutes, add the cornstarch into the bowl or pork ribs 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 cornstarch.)
  • Place the spare rib into a shallow bowl or a plate with a high lip and spread it out into a single layer, so that the meat can cook evenly.
  • Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil on top of the meat evenly.

Steaming the Pork

  • Using a wok or high-walled large pot set the bamboo steamer, metal trivet, or crisscrossed wooden chopsticks to the bottom of the pan or wok.
  • Add in water til it reaches just below the bottom of the bamboo steamer, metal trivet, or crisscrossed wooden chopsticks.
    You don't want the water to touch the bottom of your plate during the steaming process.
  • Set the stove 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.
  • Gently place the plate of spare rib into the pan and cover it with a lid.
    (If you are using a bamboo steamer, use the bamboo lid instead)
  • Steam for 8-10 minutes
    (If you cut your pork ribs larger than 1 inch, you may need to steam it for an additional 1-2 minutes.)
  • Once cooked, remove from steamer and add garnishes and serve hot with white rice! :)
    Steamed Chinese Spare Ribs with Black Beans with a side of rice on the side


  • It's important not to overcook this dish. When you overcook the spare ribs you lose some of the flavourful meat juices - it will be cooked right out of the meat and what you will be left with is tough, rubbery pieces of meat sitting in a lot of meat juices. I cut my meat into big 1-inch 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.
  • I like to use maple syrup and honey in place of sugar when I cook because I find the sweetness is milder and mixes more evenly into marinades. You can use sugar in its place but do not do a 1:1 substitute, add half the amount of sugar instead.
  • 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 wooden chopsticks set on the bottom of the wok crisscrossed. 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.  Don't worry the pork will absorb this water.
  • If you are using bamboo steamers, quickly run them under running water to give them a bit of a soak before steaming


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