But…but they’re not red!
My kids are on a serious Asian food kick right now; every day, it’s “I want Teriyaki”, or “can I put Gochujang on that?”. And, always, where’s the rice?
Now, I’m not against this – I love Asian food myself – but I don’t want to make stir-fry every night of the week, especially when I need to do a recipe for my pressure cooker. If you’re a regular reader, this recipe will look familiar – it’s my Pressure Cooker St. Louis Cut Spareribs, but with a Chinese-American flavor profile. Chinese Spare Ribs are a standard appetizer in every street corner Chinese restaurant I’ve gone to, and with good reason – the reddish, sticky sauce is great with tender pork.
So…why aren’t my Chinese ribs red? Because the red color comes from food coloring…yes, even the ribs at your local take-out. Me? I didn’t feel like digging out the Christmas cookie box to find the little bottles of food coloring buried in the bottom. The other ingredients in the glaze, especially the hoisin sauce, will give it a hint of red – but hoisin has always looked more black than red to me.
Also, these ribs are a lot more melt-in-your-mouth tender than they are crispy and stir-fried. That’s the pressure cooking – it does a fantastic job of tenderizing the ribs in about an hour. Sometimes, when I want to get fancy, I’ll run the ribs under the broiler to crisp them up a bit – see the optional step at the end of the recipe.
As for the kids? They were suspicious that the ribs were not red. (That’s a quote up at the top.) But, once they tried them, we blew through the rack of ribs in no time.
Pressure Cooker Chinese Ribs – Time Lapse [YouTube.com]
Pressure Cooker Chinese Ribs recipe. Sweet soy ribs, inspired by the appetizer menu at my local hole-in-the-wall Chinese American restaurant.
- 1 slab St. Louis Cut spareribs, membrane peeled off
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt)
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water (or more to reach the minimum liquid amount for your pressure cooker)
- 2 tablespoons Honey
- 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
- 1/4 cup liquid from the PC pot
- Remove the membrane from the ribs: On the bone side of the ribs, work a butter knife between the membrane and the bone, then grab with a paper towel and pull the membrane off of the ribs. Pull gently but firmly; if the membrane tears while you’re pulling, work the knife under the remaining pieces and pull them off as well. Trim the flap of meat from the bone side – either discard it, or season it and add it to the pot with the ribs. (It makes a nice cook’s snack.)
- Season the ribs and put them in the pressure cooker: Cut the rack of ribs between every bone. (To try to keep them about the same size, I always run my knife down the same side of the rib.) Stir the salt and five spice powder together, then sprinkle over the ribs. Add the 1/2 cup of soy sauce and 1/2 cup of water into the pressure cooker pot (or use the minimum liquid amount for your pressure cooker). Add your pressure cooker rack, then stack the ribs in the pressure cooker pot, on top of the rack.
- Pressure cook the ribs for 30 minutes with Natural Pressure Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 30 minutes in an electric PC, or 24 minutes in a stovetop PC, then let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 more minutes.
- Glaze the ribs: In a small bowl, whisk the hoisin sauce, honey, and 1/4 cup of pot liquid. Gently lift the ribs out of the pressure cooker, put them in a large bowl, and pour the glaze over them. Spread the ribs out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and brush the ribs again with the glaze. Serve, or tighten the sauce with an extra step…
- Optional step: Broil the ribs and glaze again: Put the baking sheet of ribs under a broiler set to high, and broil the ribs until the glaze is bubbling and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler. Remove the ribs from the broiler, brush with another layer of glaze from the bowl, and serve.
- Want super-tender ribs? Pressure cook for 45 minutes in an electric PC or 36 minutes in a stovetop PC. I did a slab for that long, and they were falling apart when I tried to lift them out of the cooker. I prefer a little bite to my ribs – or at least that I can grab the bone without them falling apart – but if you want ultra-tender ribs, go longer.
- Want traditional “red” Chinese ribs? Add a few drops of red food coloring to the glaze as you whisk it. (Yes, that’s what they do in restaurants.)
- This recipe will fit in a 6 quart or larger pressure cooker. I love my 6 quart Instant Pot pressure cooker.
- Category: Weeknight Dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Chinese
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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