Chilli salt spare ribs

Matt Tebbutt makes inexpensive pork spare ribs taste irresistible with a Chinese-inspired spicy pepper rub
By Matt Tebbutt
Chilli salt spare ribs
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 3½ hrs marinating
  • Effort: easy


For the spare ribs

  • 450 g pork spare ribs
  • ½ tsp sichuan peppercorns
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp cornflour
  • 1 pinches chinese five spice
  • 1 litres vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the garnish

  • 1-2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 red bird's eye chillies, finely sliced
  • 6 spring onions, finely sliced

Tips and Suggestions

You'll get messy fingers eating these, so put a finger bowl of warm water with a slice of lemon in it on the table. And don't forget the napkins.


1. For the spare ribs: put the spare ribs in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer vigorously for 1 hour, then drain.

2. Meanwhile, toast the Sichuan peppercorns and garlic in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 1 minute, until lightly browned and aromatic. Remove from the pan and leave to cool, then separate the garlic from the peppercorns and set the garlic aside.

3. Coarsely grind the Sichuan peppercorns with a pestle and mortar, then stir in the salt and black pepper.

4. In a large bowl, mix the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of water, then add the five spice powder and half the Sichuan peppercorn mixture. Tip in the drained spare ribs and mix to coat well. Set aside to cool then cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Half an hour before you want to fry the ribs, remove them from the fridge.

5. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or deep-fryer until hot (test when the oil is ready by dropping a cube of bread into the oil; it should sizzle and turn golden brown in 30 seconds).

6. Carefully add the spare ribs to the oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, or until sizzling and hot through. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

7. For the garnish: heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat and stir-fry the chillies and spring onions for 1-2 minutes.

8. Tip the spare ribs into the wok and sprinkle over the remaining Sichuan pepper mixture and slices of garlic. Stir-fry for 1 minute, tossing to coat, then transfer to warm plates and serve.

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