Char siu ribs

The low-effort way to oven-roasted tender ribs.


I like my ribs sticky and glossy, infused with a powerhouse of classic Chinese flavours. Give me a sharp knife, a bit of kitchen towel to wipe my hands – and, because I eat them with all the grace of Cookie Monster, my face – and I'm good to go.

These are easy to make; the only vague hardship is a little forward planning to give them as much of a full day's marinating as you can. After that, you just toss them into the oven and baste them a few times towards the end of cooking to create a deeply red coat of delicious lacquer.

Because of the shape and size of the ribs, it's easier to marinate them in a ziplock bag than it is in a bowl. If you don't have a rack that fits inside your roasting tin, line the tin with foil first to make clean-up easier, as the marinade will scorch a little.

Char siu ribs

Serves 2.

2 racks of pork ribs
80ml (⅓ cup) hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 tablespoon of sesame oil

to serve:
chopped coriander
finely sliced long red chilli

Measure all the liquid ingredients and the five-spice into a resealable plastic bag. Add the ribs, seal up the bag and roll around to coat the ribs. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, overnight if possible. The longer, the better.

To cook, set your oven to 220°C (425°F).

Remove the ribs from the marinade (keep the remaining marinade) and place them on a rack in a roasting tin with the arch of the ribs facing down (i.e., with the end of the bones pointing up). Pour enough water (or rice wine) into the tin just to cover the bottom; this will both help steam the meat and stop any drips of marinade from burning. Cover the tin tightly with foil and roast for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil, turn the ribs and baste well with the reserved marinade. Roast for another 30 minutes, uncovered, basting every 10 minutes until glossy.

Serve with bowls of chopped coriander and chilli to be sprinkled over the ribs.