Sweet & Sour dishes are commonly known Chinese dishes. They’re probably even in the top 5 most popular. Yet, what I’ve seen at “fake” Chinese take-outs rarely resembles what I know of as Sweet & Sour. They’re often neon orange ( I don’t even know where that color comes from), taste like pure fried batter without meat, sweeter than a lollipop, or all three atrocities.

I’m not claiming that the real thing is healthy. It’s not. These spare ribs are deep-fried. There is still a lot of sugar, though I have to believe less than whatever “they” put. Plus, I know I’m still using meat. It is delicious, in addictive little chunks that work well as finger food at parties. Of course, Sweet & Sour Ribs goes over well with the kids too.

Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs 2

Before you start this recipe, I’ll explain 2 lesser known ingredients. First, you’ll have to get pork spare ribs at a butcher shop (preferably Chinese market) where they know how to cut it the “short” way. They come out in long strips with bones along it.That way you can cut it between each bone to make little pieces. Also, you’ll likely end up with 1 or 2 bigger bone pieces. Those you can remove and just save for soup so the 1.5 lbs spare ribs will end up being more like 1.25lbs of usable meat/bone.

spare ribs 3

The next ingredient is rock candy, commonly used in Chinese cooking. It’s like sugar but it thicken sauces and gives a shiny coating to the meat. My mom recently started purchasing rock candy in these chunks which are easier to use than breaking up the large pieces yourself.

rock candy

Now make these Sweet & Sour Spare Riibs for your party and let me know what the crew thinks.

Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs

  • 1.5 lbs “short-cut” spare ribs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • oil for frying
  • rounded 1/2 cup rock candy pieces
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Instructions -

1. Cut ribs in between the bones making small 1″ to 2″ pieces.

spare ribs 2

2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar and soy sauce. Add cut ribs and mix until well coated. Set aside for 40 minutes.

marinating spare ribs

3. Heat oil for frying, about 375 degrees F. Drain the ribs, reserving the marinade. Fry the ribs for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked through. You can taste-them to see if they’re done and they’re already quite tasty.

frying spare ribs 2

4. Drain on paper towels for at least 5 minutes. (If you want to use less oil, my mom uses about 1 cup of oil and fries in three separate batches.)

fried spare ribs

5. Discard most of the frying oil, reserving just 1 T of it. If you’re using the same wok that you fried in, you’ll have to clean it first. Heat the reserved oil in the wok. Add rock candy and stir to melt. When almost melted, add rice vinegar, 1/2 cup water, white vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon reserved marinade, and bring to a boil.

6. Allow to boil for 2 minutes and add the ribs back in. Stir and coat on high heat until the sauce reaches a rapid boil and continues for 1 minute. Stir and coat the pieces as the sauce thickens and it should get shiny. Add garlic and toss for 30 seconds. Serve.

Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs 6

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