Walter Kei’s Sweet and Sour Spareribs

Walter Kei's Sweet and Sour Spareribs Recipe

Walter Kei of Hong Kong likes to flour these spareribs and then deep-fry them, but I prefer pan-frying and then braising them. Kei finishes the sauce with lime juice and butter, a twist that reflects the innovative style of Hong Kong cooks.–Grace Young

LC Servings Vary Note

Yes, in theory, you could stretch these delectable ribs to satisfy 4 persons if you set them out as part of a banquet feast. Even still, be warned, these ribs disappear awfully quickly.

Walter Kei's Sweet and Sour Spareribs Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 3 H
  • Serves 2 to 4


  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Shao-Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean baby back pork spareribs, cut into single ribs
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Chinkiang (Chinese black) or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest, optional


  • 1. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, the sugar, cornstarch, rice wine, soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add the spareribs and combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • 2. Pat the ribs completely dry with paper towels. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and carefully add the spareribs, meat side down, spreading them in a single layer in the wok. Reduce the heat to medium and fry, undisturbed, for 5 minutes, letting the spareribs brown. Then, using a spatula, turn the spareribs over and fry an additional 2 minutes.
  • 3. Carefully add the brown sugar, vinegar, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and water to the wok and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the ribs meat side down. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Add the butter and lime juice and stir to combine. Garnish with lime zest, if desired.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Hey, there. Just a reminder that all our content is copyright protected. Like a photo? Please don't use it without our written permission. Like a recipe? Kindly contact the publisher listed above for permission before you post it (that's what we did) and rewrite it in your own words. That's the law, kids. And don't forget to link back to this page, where you found it. Thanks!

Recipe Testers Reviews

Renee Catacalos

May 05, 2004

We loved the recipe. I made my ribs in a heavy Calphalon skillet, and they cooked beautifully in about an hour. Finishing the sauce with butter and lime juice made it velvety and cut the sweetness a bit. It could serve four in a multi-course meal, but we all certainly wanted more.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Send it along. Covet one of those spiffy pictures of yourself to go along with your comment? Get a free Gravatar. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe?
Let us know what you think.