Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Servings: Serves 4 as part of a multi-dish meal
2 pounds meaty pork spareribs, cut crosswise through the bone into strips about 1½ inches wide
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
2 large green onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon dark (thick) soy sauce
3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, unrinsed and chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, optional
1. Starting from one end, remove the tough white membrane from the underside of each rib strip: Slide the tip of a knife underneath the membrane that lies between 2 rib bones, lift it up and cut it. Then, use a paper towel to grab the membrane and pull it away from the ribs. Several pulls may be required. Trim the remaining small membrane patches or excess fat with a knife. Cut each strip between the bones or cartilage into individual riblets.
2. Put the garlic, ginger and green onion on a plate. For the seasoning liquid, stir together the salt, sugar, dark soy sauce, rice wine and water. Set the aromatics and seasoning liquid near the stove.
3. Heat a wok, heavy pot or deep skillet over high heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the garlic, ginger and green onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir in the riblets and black beans. Continue cooking until the pork turns white and is coated with the other ingredients, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the seasoning liquid.
4. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook until the pork is chewy-tender, about 1 hour, stirring 2 to 3 times. The riblets can be made up to this point and refrigerated overnight before continuing.
5. Remove most of the fat from the sauce (the fat will be easy to remove if the riblets have been refrigerated and the fat is solidified; if they are just finished cooking, temporarily transfer the riblets to a bowl to make skimming the fat easier).
6. Heat the riblets and sauce over medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a vigorous simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced and thickened enough to coat the pork, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro (if using) and transfer to a serving plate or shallow bowl.