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How to Steam Pork Ribs

by Mark S. Baker, studioD

Pork spare ribs are a common protein used in many cultures, and are particularly popular in Asian dishes. In most cases, the ribs are cut across the bone, and then into 1- to 2-inch pieces so that the meat cooks faster. Marinating the pork ribs overnight imparts additional flavor and helps to tenderize the meat and speed up the cooking process.

Rinse the spare ribs under cool running water. Pat dry using paper towels. Separate the spare ribs into single-rib sections using a sharp knife and a cutting board. Cut each rib piece in half or into thirds. depending on the length of the bone, so that you end up with pieces that are 1 to 2 inches long.

Create a marinade for the spare ribs. You might consider Asian sauces as the basis for the marinade, such as plum sauce, soy sauce or black bean sauce, and mix in other ingredients like salt, ground black pepper, minced onion, minced garlic, ground cayenne pepper, Asian five-spice powder, cinnamon, ginger or sriracha sauce. Combine marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well with a whisk.

Place the ribs in a resealable container or plastic bag and add the marinade. Place the spare ribs in the refrigerator and let sit for at least two hours, preferably overnight.

Set up your steamer. There are various designs and methods for steaming. If you don't have a bamboo steamer, a double-pot steaming system or a steaming basket, as long as the ribs are kept out of the water, will also work. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

Drain the marinade from the spare ribs. Shake off any excess marinade and place the spare ribs on the steamer insert or the steaming rack.

Place the steamer atop the boiling pot and cover with a lid. Steam the ribs for 20 to 30 minutes or until the meat registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer. Avoid touching bone with the thermometer as you will not get a good reading. Add water to the saucepan as needed.

Remove the steamer basket from the saucepan and remove the spare ribs from the steamer. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes to allow for carryover cooking.

Items you will need
  •  Pork ribs
  •  Paper towels
  •  Boning or serrated knife
  •  Cutting board
  •  Bowl
  •  Seasonings for marinade
  •  Whisk
  •  Resealable container or plastic bag
  •  Large saucepan
  •  Water
  •  Steamer basket


  • Chinese Kitchen; Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

About the Author

Based in Virginia Beach, Mark S. Baker has been working in editorial for more than 20 years. He has served as a writer and editor for publications such as the "Houston Post," "Boca Raton News" and "Interactive Week," among others. Baker also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and has his own catering business.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images