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Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe – Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

A popular appetizer in China, sweet-and-sour spare ribs, or tang cu pai gu recipe is not difficult to make, and is incredible with the right ingredients. This is our best recipe for that famous dish.


Tang Cu Pai Gu for Chinese New Year in San francisco
Tang Cu Pai Gu for Chinese New Year in San francisco

CHINESE NEW YEAR IN SAN FRANCISCO

Lunar New Year in San Francisco is one of the biggest celebrations. This year, it has become a state holiday in California. With a parade and firecrackers and streets decorated with red lanterns. And of course, the food. Tang Cu Pai Gu, an authentic Chinese Dish, is one of the favorites. Also known as Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs.

Red Lanterns for Chinese New Year in San francisco
Red Lanterns for Chinese New Year in San francisco

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BEST TANG CU PAI GU RECIPE

The way to make the best tang cu pai gu is to start with the best ingredients. Like many ingredients, Chinese ingredients vary in quality by brand. If the brands are unfamiliar, it is difficult to know which ones to use. Here is a list of the ingredients where selecting a good brand really matters.

SOY SAUCE

Zhongba handcrafted soy sauce. We get this online from The Mala Market.

SHAOXING WINE

Many recipes will tell you that it’s ok to substitue wine for Shaoxing wine, but it’s just not the same thing. If you start substituting ingredients it won’t taste authentic, especially in a dish like tang cu pai gu. We use a Shaoxing Huadiao that we get from  The Mala Market.

CHINESE BLACK VINEGAR

Chinese black vinegar is a very unique ingredient that really has no substitute. We use a hand-made Baoning vinegar that has been aged for 10 years. This is another ingredient that is available from The Mala Market.

tang cu pai gu simmering in the wok

Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe - Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs
Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe – Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe - Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs
Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe – Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe - Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs
Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe – Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe - Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe

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Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8
Calories: 141kcal
Author: Lisa LeCoump
Chinese Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

Equipment

  • wok

CHOOSING BRANDS:

For certain products, the choice of brand will make a big difference in the outcome of the recipe and in your carbon footprint. So, for those products, we have listed the brand. We are not paid to mention a brand and have no affiliates.

Ingredients

  • 2 inch piece ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 scallion white part
  • 1 pound Spare ribs cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Zhongba handcrafted soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Shaoxing Huadiao
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Hand-made Baoning vinegar aged 10 years
  • 1 Tablespoon White vinegar
  • 4 pieces star anise
  • 4 dried chili pods
  • peanut oil enough for frying

Instructions

  • Crush and chop ginger, garlic and scallions into ¼ inch pieces. Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the spare ribs and bring the water to a boil. Skim the water, and then add the ginger, garlic and scallions. Simmer the ribs until they are cooked (about 5 minutes). Remove the meat to a bowl and keep the stock.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and the ginger, garlic and scallions from the pot and pour the mixture over the ribs to coat all the ribs. Let this sit for 30 minutes.
  • Heat enough oil in the wok for deep frying until it starts to smoke. Add the spare ribs and fry until they are crispy and turn brown, Test the ribs so they are don't fry too long. Take them out of the oil and drain out all the oil.
  • Add the chilli pods and stir fry until soft and turning black, and then remove them. Add the ginger, garlic and scallions to the oil and stir fry just until they begin to brown and remove them.
  • Put the ribs back in the wok and add a half cup of the stock, the sugar, Baoning vinegar, white vinegar, and star anise.
  • Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the water has evaporated and created a thick syrup over the ribs. Add back the chilli pods, garlic, ginger and scallions and stir to coat with the syrup.
  • Remove the ribs, pour the syrup and aromatics over them and allow the dish to cool to room temperature.

Notes

The ribs are usually served at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

WHY THIS RECIPE IS SUSTAINABLE:

Check out the chart on the blog post to see how food choices affect climate change. This recipe uses responsible brands and items that are lower on the chart and the production creates less greenhouse gas.

https://tonyfitzgeraldphotography.com/2023/01/19/tang-cu-pai-gu-recipe-chinese-sweet-and-sour-spare-ribs/
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Nutrition Facts
Tang Cu Pai Gu Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
141
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
9
g
14
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Cholesterol
 
32
mg
11
%
Sodium
 
76
mg
3
%
Potassium
 
124
mg
4
%
Carbohydrates
 
7
g
2
%
Fiber
 
0.2
g
1
%
Sugar
 
6
g
7
%
Protein
 
6
g
12
%
Vitamin A
 
60
IU
1
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
14
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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