These lavishly spiced ribs are based on a recipe from Chengdu home cook Ivy Hui. The ribs require an overnight marinade, so plan accordingly. See Matt Gross’s article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients. This recipe first appeared in our March 2013 issue along with Matt Gross’s story Capital of Heat.
- 2 lb. pork spareribs, cut into 3″ pieces
- 2 cups Chinese rice wine
- 2 tbsp. Chinese five-spice powder
- 3 1⁄4 cups canola oil
- 10 cloves garlic, 4 sliced, and 6 minced
- 1 (8″) piece peeled ginger (3″ sliced into “coins,” 5″ minced)
- 4 dried chiles de árbol
- 3 tbsp. fennel seeds
- 5 star anise
- 2 sticks cinnamon, broken in half
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 xiao mi la or red Thai chiles, stemmed and sliced
- 2 erjingtiao or green Thai chiles, stemmed and sliced
- 1⁄3 cup hong you (Sichuan red chile oil; see recipe, or use store-bought)
- Steamed rice, for serving
- Mix spareribs, wine, and five-spice powder in a bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, drain ribs, discarding liquid, and transfer to a 6-qt. saucepan. Cover with water by 2″; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until slightly tender, 3–5 minutes, and drain. Set aside.
- Heat ¼ cup canola oil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic and ginger, dried chiles, fennel, star anise, and cinnamon; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer spices and chiles to a piece of cheesecloth; tie into a tight package. Add package to wok with reserved ribs, sugar, salt, and 6 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until ribs are very tender, 30–35 minutes. Drain ribs, discarding liquid and spice package, and dry completely with paper towels; set aside.
- Dry wok with paper towels and heat remaining 3 cups of canola oil to 375°. Working in 2 batches, fry ribs until crisp, 6–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain; set aside. Discard all but ¼ cup oil; heat over high heat. Add minced garlic and ginger, and red and green chiles; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ribs and red chile oil; cook for 1 minute more. Serve with rice.