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Sparerib refers to that specific cut of meat from the rib section of pork or beef after much of the meat has been trimmed off, but with some remaining meat adhering to the bones. This is precisely the reason why they are labelled as ‘spare ribs’. Spareribs are basically pork or beef ribs that may be cooked by roasting/grilling/baking/barbecuing with a spicy sauce to produce the much-in demand dish called barbecued spareribs. Spareribs are prepared in different ways and eaten as part of several cuisines all over the world. Although, sparerib is quite popular, it is obtained from what is considered to be the most inexpensive cut from pork and beef ribs.

Preparation of Sparerib in Different Cuisines

Sparerib is most commonly prepared as part of Chinese and other-Chinese influenced cuisines.

Chinese and American-Chinese Cuisines

  • In Chinese culinary practice, pork spare ribs are normally first cut into 3 to 4 inch sections, which are then fried, braised, or steamed.
  • In the Cantonese sub-cuisine of southern China, the spare ribs are given a red color (by the use of food color) and roasted after coating with a sweet and savoury sauce. This variety of spare ribs, referred to as char siu, is considered among one of the foremost items categorised under “siu mei” i.e. Cantonese roasted meat dishes.
  • In American Chinese culinary tradition, pork spare ribs are usually cooked in the typical char siu style, and most often feature as part of the appetizer dish by the name of ‘pu pu’ platter.

In Southern American cuisine

Spare ribs have also gained popularity in the Southern parts of America where the general practice is to cook them either on a barbecue spit or on an open fire. These are served as a fairly large slab (with all bones intact) accompanied with a sauce. In America, butchers prepare two common cuts:

  • Pork spare ribs are obtained from the belly region of the pig's rib cage that lies above the sternum or breast bone and below the rear ribs that extend about 6" down below the spine. Spare ribs are thus flatter than the curved back ribs and contain more of bone and less of meat. Also, there tends to be quite a bit of fat which is what makes these ribs much more tender and juicy than baby back ribs.

  • St. Louis Cut ribs are spare ribs obtained from the region where the cartilage, sternum bone, and the surrounding meat called the rib tips have been extracted. Thus, the St. Louis Cut rib racks are more or less rectangular in shape.

  • Beef spare ribs are derived from the belly portion of the cattle's rib cage over the sternum (breast bone). Beef spare ribs are obviously longer, wider, and sometimes even more curved than their pork counterparts. These are severed from the prime rib rump. While the thicker boneless part classifies as the ribeye steak, when the upper tips of ribs are cut off, these become short ribs.

Recipes using Sparerib

Barbecued Pork Spareribs

This is by far the most favourite sparerib preparation that is quite easy to make yet extremely flavourful and scrumptious.


  • Pork spareribs
  • Brown sugar
  • Ketchup
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Rum
  • Chilli sauce
  • Crushed garlic
  • Dry mustard
  • Ground black pepper


  1. In preheated oven, spareribs divided into serving size portions, wrapped in double foil, are set to bake. These are unwrapped, drained off drippings and placed aside.
  2. Brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chile sauce, rum, garlic, mustard, and pepper are mixed together in a bowl. This sauce is used to coat the ribs which are then left to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour, or preferably refrigerated overnight.
  3. The grill that has been greased with spray is preheated, ribs placed on the grill, and roasted, turning over and basting with enough marinade in between.


The prepared spareribs are plated, the grilling liquid drizzled over it, served with a hot and sweet dipping sauce, white onion rings and lemon wedges.

Nutrition Information

A serving size of ~ 150 g provides-

§ ~ 504 calories with 272 calories from fat

§ 30.2 g total fat with 11g saturated fat

§ 120 mg cholesterol

§ 715 mg sodium and 489 mg potassium

§ 23.1 g total carbohydrates with 0.2 g dietary fibre and 20.3 g sugars.

§ 29.9 g protein

Recipe Variations

Chinese Barbequed Spareribs

These are prepared in a similar manner but using a slightly different mix of ingredients - Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, dry sherry, finely chopped cloves of garlic, sugar, red food colouring (optional), Chinese five spice powder and St. Louis style slab of spareribs, divided into individual ribs.

These hot Chinese Barbeque Spareribs may be served with duck sauce or Chinese mustard and a green salad by the side.

Honey and Garlic Barbeque Spareribs

The unique combination of honey and garlic bring forth an unusual flavor along with the hoisin sauce to create sweet yet sharp juicy honey and garlic barbeque spareribs.

Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce

Chinese fermented black beans or alternatively Chinese Black bean sauce in combination with ginger-garlic, soy sauce, chicken broth and seasonings with rice wine/sherry and sugar would result in delectable Chinese Barbequed Spareribs in Blackbean Sauce.

Nutritional Improvement

These chewy spare ribs form a very tasty, high protein appetizer but fat-trimmed spare ribs should be used to lower the overall fat and cholesterol content. Fibre, Vitamins C and K, B-vitamins, folic acid anti-oxidant nutrients like lutein, carotenes and zeaxanthin may be included by the use of plenty of fresh scallions.