Spicy Salt and Pepper Spareribs

Hanging Chinese pork ribs

Derek E. Rothchild / Stockbyte / Getty Images

  • Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
  • Prep: 2 hrs 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: serves 2 to 4

Want a delicious Asian-inspired family meal or a dinner party favorite? A spicy salt and pepper mix lends flavor to these deep-fried spareribs. If it is available, and you want to turn the heat factor up a notch, feel free to substitute Szechuan peppercorns for the black pepper.

Asian-style ribs that you find in Chinese take-out restaurants are different. Those are usually char siu-style, which means it is roasted and glazed with honey, soy and hoisin sauce, and five-spice powder. 

Instead, this recipe will only have a hint of Chinese flavor, which you will get with the added five-spice powder. 


  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless meaty spareribs or pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 3 to 4 cups oil for deep-frying, or as needed
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, or as needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Stir-fry the salt and black pepper in a heavy frying pan over medium-low heat, shaking the pan, until the salt darkens. Remove from the heat and stir in the five-spice powder. Cool.

  3. Cut the spareribs along the individual bones. Rub lightly with the salt and pepper mixture. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

  4. Preheat the oil for deep-frying to between 360 and 375 F. 

  5. Dust the spareribs with cornstarch. Use a deep-fryer basket to carefully add the ribs into the oil. Deep-fry the submerged spareribs for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and drain.

  6. Deep-fry the spareribs a second time, until they are crispy and cooked (about 1 minute). Drain. Serve with any remaining salt and pepper mix for dipping.

Want to know more about the types of ribs you can use for this recipe? This recipe calls for spare ribs, although any kind will do. Spare ribs, also called side ribs, are a variety of pork ribs. They are cut from the lower portion of the pig specifically the belly and breastbone, behind the shoulder.

There are two variations of spare ribs you can try: St. Louis style spare ribs or Kansas City-style. The St. Louis style have had the sternum bone, cartilage, and rib tips removed. The shape is almost rectangular. The Kansas City-style ribs are trimmed less closely than the St. Louis style ribs and have the hard bone removed.

Baby back ribs are another type of pork rib that is taken from the top of the rib cage. These are sometimes meatier than spare ribs, although, spare ribs tend to have more fat and are juicier. 

Another type of ribs is short ribs, which are beef. Or, beef back ribs, which are usually less expensive than pork ribs. Beef back ribs contain bigger bones. The ribs are not as meaty and are chewier.