Serves: 4 main course servings, up to 8 for party finger food
Prep time:  about 2 1/2 hours

Chinese Lacquered Baby Back Ribs

Serves: 4 main course servings, up to 8 for party finger food
Prep time: about 2 1/2 hours


2 racks baby back ribs (about 2 pounds total)
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger
5 cloves garlic
1 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon five-spice powder (optional)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
3 to 4 teaspoons Asian chili sauce, such as Sriracha or sambal oelek
1 tablespoon water
4 scallions
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)


Remove the inside membrane from the ribs. Roughly chop the ginger to get about 1/2 cup. Smash, peel, and roughly chop the garlic. Whisk the ginger, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a nonreactive dish (see Cook’s Note, below). Add the ribs, turning to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the ribs from the marinade, brush off the ginger and garlic, and discard the marinade. Pat dry and season on all sides with salt, black pepper and the five-spice powder, if using. Place the ribs, bone side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and cover the sheet tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes.

Whisk the hoisin sauce, chili sauce, and water in a small bowl. Remove the ribs from the oven and brush all over with the sauce. Cook uncovered , meat side up, until the ribs are tender and nicely glazed, 30-35 minutes.

Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice the white and green parts of the scallions. Cut between the rib bones and place ribs on a serving platter. Scatter scallions and sesame seeds, if using, on top.

Cooks' Note: A non-reactive dish is basically any dish not made out of aluminum.


  • Five-spice powder is a Chinese spice mix containing more or less equal parts of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorn, ground together to a fine powder.
  • Hoisin sauce is a thick, rich, and sweet bean-based sauce. Look for it in an Asian market if you can’t find it in the international aisle of our store. It’s good brushed on steaks, pork chops, or hamburgers before grilling or as a condiment for Asian noodle dishes.
  • Asian chile sauces like sambal oelek are an easy way to add a quick hit of fire to a dish. Look for them packaged in jars in the international aisle of your store and keep them in the fridge once open; they last forever.

Excerpted from How to Boil Water with permission from Meredith Books and Television Food Network, G.P. © 2006.

From the Cookbook

How to Boil Water

How to Boil Water

Find a Recipe


Search recipes by keyword: Search

enter valid email address