What I love most about writing this column every week is being able to share the best, most foolproof and popular recipes from my home kitchen. This is one of the all-time greats, and I make a ton of it all winter, since it's an indoor braised-rib recipe. For years, I ate these ribs all over China, Thailand and the Indo-Malay-Singaporean triangle. This is the tastiest, saltiest, sweetest, spiciest, most amazing rib recipe for stovetop cookery that I know of. Barbecue is cooking with smoke, grilling is cooking over a fire source, and for most of us in the US, these options don't work in the cold-weather months. Where I live in Minnesota, cooking low and slow, using indirect methodology, is impossible when the temperature at night is in the 20s. But inside, I can make enough ribs in one large pot to feed four, and serve the ribs with Japanese short-grain rice; a nice, tart, vinegary cucumber salad; and sautéed sugar snap peas or Chinese broccoli. This is one of the most popular dinner events in our home.


  • 1 cup sake
  • ½ cup Chinese fermented black beans, rinsed and coarsely chopped (see Note)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 racks baby back ribs, cut into 2-rib sections (about 4 1/2 pounds)
  • 8 small dried red chiles
  • 8 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 bunches scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths, plus thinly sliced scallions for garnish
  • Cilantro, for garnish


1. In a medium bowl, whisk the sake with the black beans, soy sauce, hoisin, oyster sauce and 1 cup of water. Let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large enameled, cast-iron casserole, heat the oil until shimmering. Add half of the ribs at a time and cook over moderately high heat, turning a few times, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a platter.
3. Add the chiles, garlic and cut scallions to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant. Add the sake mixture and bring to a simmer, then add the ribs. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat, turning occasionally, until the ribs are tender, about 1 hour.
4. Uncover the casserole and simmer over moderate heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a platter. Pour the sauce into a heatproof measuring cup and skim off the fat. Sprinkle the ribs with the sliced scallions and cilantro and serve, passing the sauce at the table.


Make Ahead - The cooked ribs can be refrigerated in their braising liquid overnight.
Chinese fermented black beans are available at Asian markets.


Andrew Zimmern


6 servings




Asian : South East Asian



preparation times

• Active: 30 Minutes
• Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes