Mom’s Best Braised Pork Ribs

4.94 from 15 votes
Email Facebook LinkedIn Mix Pinterest Reddit Twitter
This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

An easy braised pork ribs recipe that promises fall-off-the-bone ribs with a rich, savory taste. Freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Asian Braised Pork Ribs (红烧排骨) - An easy recipe that promises fall-off-the-bone ribs with a rich, savory taste. Freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

As a food blogger, I have the habit of constantly exploring new flavors and cooking techniques. However, there are certain habits that I rarely deviate from. For example, making braised pork ribs using the recipe passed down from my grandma, and serving it with steamed rice.

Whenever I serve this dish, I remember the good old times back in China. My mom used to pack my lunch box with some saucy braised ribs, steamed seven-grain rice, and a freshly made vegetable stir fry. Everything was made from scratch. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I moved to the US, where I have to cook everything in my own kitchen if I want a family-style meal.

Just like with other family dishes, my mom never needed a recipe for this dish. When I asked her how to cook my favorite braised pork ribs, it took her forever to measure everything and pass me a recipe that was still ambiguous. Today, even though I can still taste a subtle difference between our renditions of the dish, I’m lucky to enjoy the taste of home often. My husband loves the dish so much and he said it is just as good as he remembered.

Asian Braised Pork Ribs (红烧排骨) - An easy recipe that promises fall-off-the-bone ribs with a rich, savory taste. Freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Braised pork ribs, my mom’s style

Compared to many recipes out there, my family does a few things differently, to make the cooking easier to approach and the results extra delicious.

(1) Blanch the ribs instead of browning them.

I’ve seen many braised meat recipes require a browning procedure, where you “seal the flavors” into the meat and create a good texture. Not in this recipe.

The browning process is messy, creating a lot of smoke and oil splatter. So my mom never browns the meat, but blanches it instead. You still get a great texture and flavor in the end, with tender, fall-off-the-bone pork, soaked in a scrumptious sauce.

(2) Add salty seasonings later.

My mom claims this method makes tenderer meat in a shorter cooking time.

You add only the ingredients that do not contain salt at the beginning. Adding fresh aromatics at the very beginning of cooking is crucial because it helps eliminate the gaminess of the pork and adds fragrance to the broth. On the other hand, adding salt too early will tighten up the pork and require a longer braising time. So always add soy sauce and salt when the braising is halfway finished, when the meat starts to turn soft, but still has enough time to absorb the flavor and the saltiness.

(3) The one secret ingredient that makes your dish “wow”

There is one ingredient in this recipe that you might not be able to obtain easily outside of China – the red fermented bean curd. It’s a preserved tofu product cooked with soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. I call it Chinese cheese, since its texture is similar to that of soft cheese and its taste is a bit stinky. In this recipe, my mom uses red fermented bean curd to add a complex flavor to the sauce.

There are two types of fermented bean curd: white and red. The two have very distinct flavors. So, do not use the white type in this recipe. If you can’t find the red fermented bean curd or just don’t like its flavor, skip it. The pork will still taste very nice.

Mom’s Best Braised Pork Ribs Cooking Process

Asian Braised Pork Ribs (红烧排骨) - An easy recipe that promises fall-off-the-bone ribs with a rich, savory taste. Freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

More cooking notes

Despite the fact that I’ve been following my mom’s recipe closely, there are a few things I do slightly differently.

(1) Use cornstarch to thicken the sauce

Instead of reducing the sauce by cooking it longer and stirring the pork constantly, I use a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce at the end. Not only does it shorten the cooking time, but it also makes the pork less likely to stick to the pan. If you still prefer to reduce the sauce by cooking it down, you can use a slotted spoon to transfer everything into a big bowl and cook the sauce down until it thickens (it could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes).

(2) Add vegetables at the end of cooking

This way, I can make a one-pan dinner with little effort. My mom rarely does this because she usually freezes the pork in small batches, and cooks vegetables with the pork when she reheats it.

If you prefer to freeze the pork in advance for meal prep, do feel free to leave out the veggies.

More family recipes

Asian Braised Pork Ribs (红烧排骨) - An easy recipe that promises fall-off-the-bone ribs with a rich, savory taste. Freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Want to Know More?Receive our 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course & Recipe Updates! Subscribe
Mom's Best Braised Pork Ribs

Mom's Best Braised Pork Ribs

4.94 from 15 votes
An easy recipe that promises fall-off-the-bone ribs with a rich, savory taste. Freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. {Gluten Free Adaptable}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: home style
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 slab (1.8 kg / 4 lbs) pork ribs , halved crosswise and cut into one-bone sections (*Footnote 1)
  • 2 " (5 cm) ginger , sliced
  • 20 g (1 oz) onion , halved lengthwise
  • 1 whole nutmeg (or 1 teaspoon nutmeg powder)
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 pieces red fermented bean curd (Optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Vegetables (Optional)

  • 2 red potatoes , chopped (or waxy potatoes)
  • 3 carrots , chopped
  • 1/2 lb (230 g) green beans

Instructions

  • Add pork ribs to a large pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then turn to medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes while skimming the foam off the top with a spoon.
  • Add the ginger, green onion, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, and cooking wine. Turn to low heat. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Add the red fermented bean curd into a small bowl and add a few spoonfuls of hot broth from the pot. Smash with the back of a spoon until the bean curd dissolves. Pour back into the pot. Simmer uncovered for another 40 to 50 minutes, until pork turns tender but is not quite falling of the bone.
  • (Optional) Add the vegetables. Continue simmering for 15 minutes, until the vegetables turn tender.
  • Add cornstarch and 1/3 cup water into a small bowl. Whisk well until the cornstarch dissolves completely. Slowly add half of the slurry into the pot. Stir to mix well. Add more slurry and stir if you want to thicken the sauce more. Note, you might not need to add all the cornstarch slurry. (*Footnote 2)
  • Serve pork ribs with steamed white rice or noodles. Enjoy!
  • Store the pork ribs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Notes

  1. Contrary to the common practice of selecting meaty ribs, Chinese cooking prefers smaller ribs with thin layers of meat, so the meat will be more flavorful. When you purchase the ribs, ask the butcher to saw the ribs crosswise into two shorter slabs. Then you can cut them into one-bone sections at home. Cutting the ribs into shorter sections makes serving easier and the meat more flavorful. 
  1. Alternatively, you can transfer the pork and vegetables into a large bowl. Then reduce the sauce by turning to medium high heat for 15 to 30 minutes, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 531kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 46.8g, Fat: 30.2g, Cholesterol: 175mg, Sodium: 625mg, Fiber: 2.3g, Sugar: 7.1g, Calcium: 82mg, Iron: 3mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!
Asian Braised Pork Ribs (红烧排骨) - An easy recipe that promises fall-off-the-bone ribs with a rich, savory taste. Freezer-friendly and perfect for meal prep. {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Receive our FREE 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course & Recipe Updates!

Subscribe

Leave a Review!

I love hearing from you! Submit your question or review below. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*.

Rate This Recipe!




Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Alika says:

    Hello Maggie!
    I’ve seen red and yellow fermented tofu in some stores where I live but could never get a clear answer when I asked the shop keeper how to use the ingredient (language barrier). Thanks to the internet and your website my curiosity is solved. But there is one last question I have. Do I mash the tofu or use it as is when adding to the recipe?
    Thank you, I’d like to try your Mom’s spare ribs very soon.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Alika, I’m so glad to hear you can find the fermented tofu and would like to try it out! This is quite unknown out side of China, but I like it a lot.
      To answer your question, you should mash it and add it to the broth. It should become a part of the sauce at the end of the cooking.
      You will probably have leftover tofu after making this. You can serve it with noodle soup and congee, to add saltiness to these dishes (like pinch a small piece of the tofu and eat with the noodles). It’s a bit like putting olive or cheese on top of a green salad. You can also use it in stir fried dishes, to add umami and saltiness. But Make sure to dissolve it with a bit water before adding.
      Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out 🙂

  2. Tom says:

    Hi Maggie,

    Just to verify, does the nutmeg remain whole, or is it split or grated?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Tom, the nutmeg remains whole in this recipe.
      Happy cooking and hope your dish turns out great!

  3. Janie says:

    Oh god, Wangzhihe’ red fermented bean curd is so delicious. Called Fermented Rose Bean Curd for those looking for it.

  4. Pamela says:

    Could a pressure cooker be used to simmer the ribs? Perhaps 20 minutes?

    You mentioned earlier on in the explanation that your mom used to pack these ribs with seven grain rice. Here in Japan people love to have multi grain rice as well. What were the seven grains that your mother used in this rice? Of course, one of them must’ve been rice!

  5. Wes says:

    What is the message of Footnote 1 noted with the pork ribs in the ingredients?

  6. Kimi Wei says:

    Hi Maggie, what’s the difference between this and a red-cooked dish?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Kimi, you can actually call this one the red cooked ribs. The only tiny difference is the typical red-cooked dish brown the meat in a wok with sugar, which gives the pork a more vibrant color. Although we rarely do that step because it’s too messy.

      • Kimi Wei says:

        OK on the sugar, Maggie.

        So, I couldn’t resist trying this dish right away. As it happened, I needed to do some shopping this week so I picked up the fermented bean curd and some delicious, fatty pork ribs. I decided to cook Chinese radish with the potatoes and carrots so ended up cooking the ribs in the morning and the root vegetables later in the day. My family loved the dish!

        Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe.

        I’m just wondering what instructions to tell my local butcher to get him to give me ribs the way I want them for this recipe. If I ask for baby back ribs to be cut in half, will this do the trick?

  7. Lily says:

    5 stars
    I was dismayed not to have fresh ginger in the house so I used a bit of dried, ground ginger and a splash of rice wine vinegar to give it a little kick. This recipe is so easy and even without all of the ingredients it was absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Gamble says:

    5 stars
    My husband is Chinese and this is one of my standard go-to’s for when I want to make Chinese food for him. It’s so good!! It works for both our American friends and Chinese in-laws. My one year old is a huge fan too! We’re also in Austin and love your traditional recipes!!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Gamble, I’m so happy to hear you enjoy the dish! It’s a family recipe and I’ve been eating it growing up. I’m glad that you enjoy the dish as much as I do 🙂 Have you checked out the newly opened H Mart? It’s nice that now we have one more option to shop Asian grocery!

  9. John Bould says:

    4 stars
    very nice and easy….I live in China, can’t find cloves and nutmeg very easily but really liked the red bean curd…that was an inspiring ingredient.
    Thanks Maggie!

  10. Mai says:

    Hi Maggie,

    How much water do you use for this recipe? And can I throw out the water after the first boil to get read of the scum and use fresh water and boil again before adding the other ingredients? I would really love to try this recipe this weekend. And finally get to use my red fremented bean curd I got last month.

    Thanks

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Mai, yes, you can throw out the water after the first boil to get rid of the scum. It doesn’t matter how much water you use for the first time. The second time, only use enough water to cover the pork. If the water runs too low at the end, you can add some boiling water to the pot. The water amount is rather flexible because you can always control how thick it comes out by adding the cornstarch slurry. Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dish!

  11. Yen says:

    5 stars
    Luurve it! No mess to clean up n best of all no oil required! Healthy dish. Thanks for sharing dis recipe to us!!!

  12. Nora-Adrienne Deret says:

    5 stars
    My family keeps Kosher so we don’t eat pork. Can I use beef short ribs instead?

    • Maggie says:

      Yes, this recipe works for short ribs too, but you might need a longer cooking time (depending on the size of the ribs you use).

  13. kayla says:

    Hi, I believe you’re missing the footnotes for this recipie!

  14. Li says:

    Wow, I just found the best looking ribs at the store today! Will definitely try this recipe. I’m impressed that the sodium level is only 625 mg! For health reasons, is there any sodium ingredient I could cut back further? Maybe the soy sauce in lesser amounts? Thanks.

    • Maggie says:

      I would reduce the salt first. You can also use soy sauce to replace light soy sauce, which reduces the sodium further.

  15. Jennifer says:

    5 stars
    I made this last night and it was sooooo tasty! The flavors are so finely balanced. My husband is super averse to any strong flavors (he’s even weird about things like oregano and celery), but he really liked it! Definitely keeping this one in the meal prep catalog. Thanks again, Maggie!

  16. Frederick Ferguson says:

    5 stars
    This is currently one of my favorite recipes that I have redone with a Korean approach. I strongly recommend soaking the ribs in cold water overnight and discarding it or else discarding the blanch water after 5 minutes and adding fresh. In any event, I still skim both the froth and fat and discard. I use half the soy sauce and substitute garlic for ginger. I also use Korean soybean paste (Doenjang: 된장) instead of soybean curds.

  17. Grace Yeo says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is easy to make, easy to source and I highly recommend it. My husband and I are both chefs, and have been in the biz for 30 years. He is Chinese Malaysian, and when HE compliments a dish, I know it is not only legit, but truly good. Thanks for letting me add this to my repertoire! 🙂

  18. Jackie Moey says:

    Can I omit the nutmeg? Will the dish be good without it?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Jackie, yeah you can cook the dish without nutmeg.

  19. Katherine says:

    Hi! Any recommendations for modifications for an instant pot.

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Katherine, you definitely need to reduce the liquid if you cook this dish in an Instant Pot. I’ve never done it before so I’m not sure exactly how much liquid to add. If you’d like to try it out, I recommend once you blanched the ribs, only reserve about 1 cup blanching liquid and use it with the rest ingredient to braise the pork in Instant Pot.

  20. Janna says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I just cooked this last week and it was so delicious — takes me back to my childhood.
    This recipe saved my life, honestly. It brought me closer to my heritage and was so comforting.

  21. Ashely Adams says:

    5 stars
    Amazing recipe! I made the recipe just as directed except I used a bit more water to make a broth, then I served it as a noodle soup with udon. I then added cilantro and shredded nappa cabbage as toppings. Delicious! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  22. David D says:

    5 stars
    This recipe directed me to cook one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
    Simple tweaks are very normal based in personal preference so
    I chose to pump up the aromatics, sugar and sodium,, but good lawd, this recipe is dang near perfect!

    Thanks, Maggie for sharing this. I think it’s just so warming, comforting and friggin’ delicious!
    You’re lucky to have been eating this your whole life.

  23. Jane says:

    Hi I don’t see footnotes. Can you give more details on cutting the pork ribs into one bone sections before cooking? Thanks!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Jane, sorry about that! I just added the footnote.
      Basically you want let the butcher to split the ribs into two shorter slabs, then cut the slab into individual ribs.
      The smaller ribs will absorb flavor more easily and it requires less cooking time to turn tender.

      • Jane Yam says:

        5 stars
        Thank you! It was delicious and worked beautifully with your tomato noodle soup recipe!

  24. Ray says:

    5 stars
    I can’t thank you enough, Maggie! This recipe is easy-to-cook (even for beginners like me), difficult to go wrong (missing an ingredien or two does not seem to affect the Wow effect), and ready-for-massive-production! LOVE IT!

    Two minor questions.

    1. My finished dish look a little more pale and dry comparing to your pictures. Was it because I skipped the step of thicken the sauce, and also served them directly out from the soup? It still tasts good, though.

    2. Does the “blanching” concept in general imply to throw away the water after the blanching? Your recipe requires only “skimming the foam” but does not require to throw away the water. That makes your recipe as convenient as just boil. But I hope to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks again, Maggie!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Ray, I’m glad to hear you like this dish!
      To answer your question, yeah the ribs will look quite pale if you do not thicken the sauce. If it looks dry, it might be because you used a larger and leaner rib. I hope the texture still turned out tender.
      As for the “blanching” yeah I guess the term I used was not accurate. My mom doesn’t discard the boiling water after skimming the foam.

  25. Anna says:

    5 stars
    This dish was perfect when I did not have time to defrost my spare ribs but needed a tasty dinner for myself and my 3-yr old son. I halved the portions knowing we still have left overs. Since I did not have the fermented tofu, I added miso (eye balled it). I also did not have potatoes so I used kabocha pumpkin as a starchy veggie. It was microwaved, peeled, and cut into large chunks. It was my first time making this dish and will be a regular since we both really enjoyed the dish and the ribs were so tender.

  26. Bruce says:

    5 stars
    excellent dish… recipe instructions are clear & easy to follow… truly a five star yummy here.

  27. J. C. says:

    Hi,
    I have no where to get red bean curd. I have firm tofu. Is that a suitable substitute? I’m ethnic Chinese so I know red fermented bean curb is quite salty and has the red color. Tofu isn’t the same. Should I go without it? I also don’t have nutmeg. I have some frozen stew vegetables (potatoes, carrots, celery etc.)and port rib tips. Are these enough? Your recipe looks great.

    • Maggie says:

      You’re right, tofu is not the same and you should skip it. The bean curd adds a nice salty umami but it’s totally OK to make the dish without it.
      Frozen stew veggies sounds good to me. You can add them at the end of the cooking because I think it takes a bit less time to cook through than fresh veggies.

  28. houtze says:

    5 stars
    I am going to cook this for the reunion dinner. I so agree with your mom that the salty ingredient should come later. Great blog by the way !

Omnivore's Cookbook: Make Chinese Cooking Easy
BuzzFeedGood HousekeepingHuffington PostLucky ChowMSNReader's DigestSaveurYahoo! News

FREE 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course

Cooking delicous Chinese food is easier than you think!

Thank

You!

USE COUPON CODE 

WELCOME20

Follow us on Facebook