Recipes | Sticky Pork Ribs Marinated in Black Vinegar, Muscovado and Spices


Sticky Pork Ribs Marinated in Black Vinegar, Muscovado and Spices

One of the most exciting books to come out last year was Angela Clutton's much awarded The Vinegar Cupboard which not only explains the origin of different vinegars and their culinary uses but contains some excellent recipes.

There's a fascinating section on wine vinegar but I've picked this one based on Chinese black vinegar because it sounds so very delicious.

Angela writes: Ribs marinated in Chinese black vinegar are a far cry from the tough, chewy spare ribs too often found in Chinese restaurants. The vinegar gives intensity to the marinade and the glaze, and it tenderises the meat gorgeously. A feast. And one to be shared with people who you don’t mind having sticky fingers with.

Ask your butcher to prepare the racks by removing the thin film of membrane on one side. Or you can do it yourself by using a knife to lift up one edge and peeling it off. Note that these are racks of spare ribs from the loin of the pig, not from its shoulder.

Sticky Pork Ribs Marinated in Black Vinegar, Muscovado and Spices

serves 4

juice of 1 orange (don’t throw away the fruit’s outer shells)
4 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
6 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 racks of pork spare ribs, cut in half to create about 5 or 6 ribs per portion
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves, unpeeled salt

To create the marinade, combine the orange juice, black vinegar, sugar, mustard, fennel seeds and cloves with a good pinch of salt and mix well.

Sit the rib racks in a roasting tin. You might need to use two, depending on the size of your racks and tins; if you do, just make sure everything is spread evenly across both tins and racks. Rub the marinade all over the racks and sit a bay leaf and a sprig of rosemary under each portion. Cut the reserved orange shells in half and put those into the tin too. Set aside for 5 hours – in the fridge if your kitchen is warm – turning the ribs in the marinade a few times.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C Fan/Gas Mark 2. Add the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves to the tin alongside the rib racks, rolling them in the marinade. Cover the tin and bake for 21⁄2 hours, basting twice, until the meat on the racks is nicely tender. Dig out and discard the orange shells, garlic, bay and rosemary. Turn the oven up to 190°C/170°C Fan/ Gas Mark 5.

Using a pastry brush, spread the marinade that is in the base of the tin all over the racks. Return to the oven, uncovered for about 25 minutes so the ribs become sticky, turning the racks twice. When the racks are a glossy, sticky, rich brown colour, take them out and let them cool a bit before serving. You need to be able to hold them in order to rip them apart satisfyingly.


Chinese black vinegar really is best here, but a balsamic or rich sherry vinegar could work too.

What to drink: The vinegar and sugar in this recipe don't make it the easiest dish to match but I reckon I'd go for a ripe, juicy Australian grenache.

Recipe from The Vinegar Cupboard by Angela Clutton (Bloomsbury Absolute, £26) Photography © Polly Webster

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