Yes to Yummy

Finger-Lickin’ Sesame Spareribs (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, nut-free)

June 30, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page


They’re sticky. They’re tender. They’re pleasantly salty with gentle notes of unami. And, best of all, you don’t have to go to an Asian restaurant to get ‘em.

Living in rather bland suburbia, the primary takeout options are pizza and “Chinese” food. I use Chinese in air quotes becomes really, what we’re eating is NOT Chinese food…it’s some misconstrued fantasy of typical American food mixed with some Asian ingredients. Although these greased, sugared, and sodium-heavy dishes are initially very satisfying, they feel awful going down. Can you say food hangover?

Using the basic technique of a Mark Bittman recipe, I recreated this takeout favorite in a much more healthful manner. I’ll bet even picky eaters will be happily gnawing away on the bones.


The first thing you’ll need is a BIG, DEEP skillet to cook the ribs in. My cast iron was the largest thing I could find…and it was a little on the small side. 

Place 3-4 pounds of spare ribs, cut into individual sections (you can ask your butcher to do this for you, or do it yourself), into the skillet. It should be snug but not suffocating.

Add 2 cups of water to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly so everything just bubbles, and cook until the water is completely evaporated, about 20 minutes. Flip the ribs over every 5 minutes or so to make sure there’s even coverage.


Once the water’s gone, let the ribs sear in the pan until brown on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Flip them over once or twice before proceeding.


To the pan, add 5 minced cloves of garlic, a 1-inch thumb of ginger, sliced into 6 thin rounds, 1/2 cup of coconut aminos or organic tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar OR your sweetener of choice, and 1/2 cup of water. 

Bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat so the liquid is at a gentle boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, turning the ribs once or twice. Add 1/2 cup of orange juice, re-cover, reduce the heat slightly, and cook until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes longer. Flip the ribs over every 5 to 10 minutes.

Toss the ribs with the sauce, garnish with some additional sesame seeds, and dig in! I made these with roasted brussel sprouts, but they’d also be excellent with sauteed cabbage, cauliflower rice, or zucchini noodles.

One thing I can promise? You’re going to need some wipes for this one.


Watch out, dumplings and chicken lo-mein: YOU’RE NEXT.

What’s your favorite “Chinese” food dish? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!

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