Yunnan barbecue spare ribs with black vinegar sauce

Neil Perry
Yunnan barbecue spare ribs with black vinegar sauce.
Yunnan barbecue spare ribs with black vinegar sauce. Photo: William Meppem

These delectable Chinese-inspired spare ribs are designed to be finished off outdoors on the barbecue, and then put on the table as part of a shared meal. The master stock can be made in advance.


3 litres master stock (see below)

2kg pork spare ribs on the bone

2 cups caster sugar

1 cup Chinkiang black vinegar

2½ tbsp light soy sauce

4 long red chillies, sliced

handful coriander leaves

Master stock

peel of 1 orange

225g rock sugar

1 bottle Shaoxing wine

1½ cups light soy

6cm piece ginger, sliced

10 cloves garlic, smashed

½ bunch spring onions, chopped

5 star anise

1 cassia bark

Makes about 6 litres


Master stock
Using a paring knife, remove any white pith from the orange peel as this will impart a bitter flavour to the stock. Roughly crush the rock sugar using a mortar and pestle. Add all ingredients to 5 litres of water in a pan, bring to the boil, simmer for 30 minutes and then strain.

Spare ribs
Bring master stock to the boil in a pot that can easily hold the ribs (cut racks in half if you need to). Add ribs to master stock and simmer until tender but still holding to the bone, for about 1½ hours.

Put sugar and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan over a medium heat.

Once sugar has dissolved, resist the urge to stir and instead gently shake and swirl the pan. Simmer until the mixture changes colour to a dark golden brown, then add vinegar and soy sauce, and bring to the boil. The sauce should have a mild burnt-sugar flavour.

Remove ribs from stock and, if you have time, leave in the fridge overnight to set. Separate ribs with a sharp knife.

Preheat a clean, well-oiled barbecue to medium. Cook ribs to heat through, about a minute each side - they will brown very quickly.

Arrange ribs on a serving plate, pour warm sauce over the top and garnish with chilli and coriander.

Photography William Meppem, Jennifer soo Styling Hannah Meppem Food preparation Nick Banbury