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close up of Chinese Steamed Spare Ribs garnished with green onions and sesame seeds
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4.98 from 35 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 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Asian, Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 640kcal
Author: Joyce Lee


  • lbs pork side ribs (spare ribs)

Spare Rib Black Bean Sauce Marinade

  • tablespoons  fermented black beans (rinsed)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced very finely, approx. 1 tablespoon)
  • ½ teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce (low sodium)
  • ½ teaspoon dark soy (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine ( or rice cooking wine or dry sherry)
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Add After You Marinate the Ribs, Right Before Steaming

  • 2 teaspoons potato starch (or cornstarch, use half the amount if you like a runnier sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (to drizzle right before steaming)

Garnish (Optional)

  • 1 stalk green onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 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 large bowl
  • Rinse 1½ tablespoons  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 and add them into the bowl with the pork ribs.
    **I like to keep them whole but crushed, but you can also roughly chop them as well.**
  • Finely mince 2 cloves garlic and add it into the bowl with the pork ribs.
  • Add 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon dark soy (optional), ½ teaspoon oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon sesame oil, 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 2 teaspoons potato starch into the bowl of pork ribs and mix well with the marinade to form a slurry to coat all the meat.
    **I like a thicker sauce, but if you prefer a thinner and runnier sauce, then add 1½ teaspoon of starch instead.**
  • 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 12-13 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 the flavorful meat juices and the spare ribs will turn out tough and rubbery. I cut my meat into big 1-inch chunks and 12 minutes was enough to cook them all the way through. So I recommend steaming the ribs between 12 to 13 minutes only, if you want to cook them longer, make sure it is no more than 15 minutes.
  • 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
  • If you are using bamboo steamers, quickly run them under running water to give them a bit of a soak before steaming
  • For a silkier and more velvety spare rib, use potato starch instead of cornstarch.


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