Pressure cooker black bean spare ribs

My mum and I cook completely different meals. Growing up, dinner almost always consisted of steamed rice, two or three accompanying dishes, and Chinese soup. When I think about it, my mum has quite an amazing repertoire of dishes in her memory. She can churn out tons of things in her sleep – all Cantonese home cooking and food that you will rarely find at restaurants. Interestingly, it’s also the kind of food that I don’t cook for guests, because I associate it with family eating. Like it’s too simple to serve to other people. Weird right? It’s a bit silly because although it’s mostly simple food, Cantonese home cooking is delicious.

Anyway, long story short, black bean spare ribs is one of those recipes that I’m sure all Cantonese home cooks can make. Even I can make it without a recipe – somewhere along the way I seem to have absorbed some knowledge from my mum. Chinese soups still totally evade me though.

I hadn’t made it in ages, until I saw Bryan’s post. That reminded me about it and here I’ve adopted it for the pressure cooker (because as mentioned previously, I use it whenever I can!)

The spare ribs pictured in the photo aren’t strictly speaking the correct cut – you really want the ones with the long bone through them. These were fine though. Just be aware that if you get the correct spare ribs, you’ll need a cleaver to chop them into 2cm chunks – if you don’t own one, go get one from an Asian grocery. They cost less than $15. Give it a strong whack straight down and you should be able to chop through the bone. I’m always very careful because I get paranoid about my fingers!

My suggestion is to use this as a guide rather than an actual recipe. You’ll see there’s a lot of garlic, because I like garlic, and plenty of salt / soy sauce because I’ve noticed that things cooked in the pressure cooker need extra seasoning. Also, I add chilli because I like spicy food. So use it as a guide and adjust it to your preferences.

Have you got any dishes / cuisines that you wouldn’t cook for guests? Am I just being silly?

Pressure cooker black bean spare ribs

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Pressure cooker black bean spare ribs


  • 1 kg spare ribs
  • 2 tablespoons dried black beans
  • 2-3cm chunk of ginger, peeled
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Using a cleaver, chop the spare ribs into 2-3cm chunks. Place in a big bowl and set aside.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, crush the black beans, ginger and garlic along with the teaspoon of salt, into a rough paste.
  3. Mix in the sugar, rice wine, oil, and soy sauce.
  4. Pour the black bean mixture over the spare ribs. Add the chillies. Mix so the ribs are thoroughly coated and set aside for at least an hour to marinate (or overnight in the fridge if desired). You can skip the marinating part if you don’t have time.
  5. When ready to cook, place in the pressure cooker, along with the water, and cook on high pressure for about 25 minutes.
  6. When finished, release the pressure and eat with rice. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, the traditional way is to steam it – I’m not sure how long for – until tender?