Japanese-Style Braised Spareribs


japanese-ribs_8245 Spareribs are not traditionally used in Japanese cooking, but this recipe proves that the traditional Japanese braising liquid: saké, shoyu, and komezu can make a delicious balance of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors for pork ribs. This is a wonderful recipe that I forgot about until I saw some very nice ribs on sale. You can cook and eat it at once, but the flavors develop beautifully if it is made a day ahead. This is a meal to be shared with close friends and family: the proper utensils to eat these ribs with are your fingers. Be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand.

Japanese-Style Braised Spareribs
Supearibu no Nikomi

serves 4

page 437

Marinate and Brown:

  • 1 ½ pounds pork spareribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 1 Tablespoon shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon toban jiang (Japanese chile-bean sauce)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons honey
  • vegetable oil for browning the ribs

Marinate the ribs for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove ribs from marinade (discard the sauce). Heat a skillet, and add oil. Over medium heat, brown all sides of the ribs.

The Braise:


  • ¼ cup saké
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup water

Combine the above in a large pot, and add the browned ribs. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, covered, over low heat for 30 minutes.

  • 2 Tablespoons Shoyu
  • 3 Tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar)

Add the above ingredients and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Turn or baste the ribs several times. When the meat is tender, you can let the ribs cool in the sauce and refrigerate to finish later in the day. If you hold the ribs for later, warm them gently in the sauce.

The Greens:

  • 10 ounces chrysanthemum or spinach in a bunch with stems aligned
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a medium pot of salted boiling water with the sesame oil added, cook the stem end of the greens for 1 minute, then immerse the leaves for 1 minute. Drain and cool under cold running water. Divide the bunch into halves, and place one half with stems to the right and the other half to the left on a bamboo rolling mat. Roll and squeeze them to remove excess water. Unroll the mat, cut off the root ends, and cut the roll into 2″ lengths.

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