A popular appetizer from Hunan province in China, sweet-and-sour spare ribs, or tang cu pai gu, are not that difficult to make, and are incredible with the right ingredients.


Table of contents

simmering in the wok

We used a recipe from a book by Fuchia Dunlop – “Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, Recipes from Hunan Province”. We followed the recipe exactly except for adding a few pieces of star anise, using Baoning vinegar instead of Chinkiang vinegar and adding couple of tablespoons of white vinegar.

Sweet-and-Sour Spar Ribs

Ingredients we used:

  • ginger
  • scallion – organic
  • garlic – organic
  • ground pork – Kurobuta spare ribs from D’Artagnan
  • Shaoxing wine – Pagoda 8 year aged from Posharpstore
  • soy sauce – Zhongba handcrated soy sauce from The Mala Market
  • sugar –
  • Hand-made Baoning vinegar aged 10 years from The Mala Market
  • White vinegar
  • star anise – from World Spice Merchants
  • dried chili pods
  • peanut oil


Test the ribs so they are don’t fry too long, they may not need the full five minutes.

The ribs are often made ahead and served at room temperature.

Photos by Tony Fitzgerald

This is one of the recipes we discovered while traveling and recreated when we got back home. We researched the science and techniques behind the recipe and used tips from exceptional chefs. Then we used the best ingredients we could find to create this recipe. For more ideas, see our other posts about recipes inspired by travel.

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