Chinese sweet and sour spare ribs are a delicious and easy main dish to make in less than an hour, using only 5 simple ingredients. All you need are pork spare ribs and 5 ingredients in a simple 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 tablespoon order!
What are Chinese sweet and sour spare ribs?
Chinese sweet and sour spare ribs are a very simple but traditional Chinese dish made from pork spare ribs, and stewed with only 5 ingredients. We know it as 5-4-3-2-1 “pai gu” or “ribs” in Chinese.
They’re tender, flavorful, savory, and with a nice balance of sweetness and acidity.
It’s a dish we grew up with because of how tasty and easy it was to make. Using only 5 ingredients, you can make this in no time, and easily pass it on to your friends and family generations to come.
It’s very common in Chinese cooking, and our version is the Shanghai-style one.
What’s in sweet and sour ribs?
These 5-4-3-2-1 ribs are the simplest meat dish that we make over and over again. Using 1 pound of pork spare ribs, you’ll need:
- 1 pound pork spare ribs, cut into 1.5”-2” pieces
- 5T cooking wine (or sake)
- 4T soy sauce
- 3T rice wine vinegar
- 2T coconut sugar
- 1T water
- Optional spices: white pepper, ginger, chopped garlic, salt to taste
What to eat with sweet and sour ribs
Sweet and sour ribs are delicious as a main, and can be served alongside:
- Chinese veggies
- Rice (or cauliflower rice, for paleo)
- Winter melon tea
Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs (5 Ingredients, Paleo)
- 1 lb pork spare ribs
- 5 tbsp cooking wine (or sake)
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- Salt/pepper to taste
- Optional spices: white pepper, 2-3 ginger slices, 2 cloves minced garlic
- Trim off fat from the ribs, and then cut ribs into 1.5” bite-size pieces.
- Put ribs into a pot filled with water, then bring to a boil for 3-4 mins until there’s no more blood.
- Drain water and scum from the pot, quickly rinse ribs, and place back on the stove.
- Put all marinade ingredients into the pot with the pork spare ribs. Note: you can also add additional seasonings like 2 minced garlic cloves, 2-3 slices of ginger, and white pepper.
- Bring to a boil, then decrease heat to low. Simmer with lid for 45-50 mins until pork spare ribs are tender and fall off the bone.
- Add more salt and white pepper to taste.
- Serve over rice or with your favorite sides and enjoy!
- Note: you can also refrigerate the meat and sauce separately, to skim the congealed fat from the top of the sauce the next day. Then combine both again.
- You can easily double this recipe to feed more people.
- You can skip the fat trimming off the spare ribs, if you prefer.
- Use baby pork spare ribs for the most flavorful and tender meat.
- For non-paleo, you can substitute regular white sugar or brown sugar.
- This recipe is very forgiving, you can adjust the ingredients to taste, as you'd like!
Serving Size 1 (1/4 pound)
Servings Per Container 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 223 Calories from Fat 58.5
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6.5g 10%
Saturated Fat 2.3g 12%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Sodium 1102.8mg 46%
Total Carbohydrate 9.1g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0.2g 1%
Protein 25g 50%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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