My mom is the queen bee of Cantonese cooking, and she can always find a way to use honey to add that sweet-and-savory balance to her dishes. When my brother’s partner successfully reproduced one of mom’s char siu (BBQ pork) rib recipes after the first try, we knew it was too good not to share. The honey glaze at the end is an important step to create that caramelized, sweet coating that makes this dish so satisfying.
This recipe can be made in the oven or air fryer. You can also use this recipe to make regular Char Siu using pork butt or shoulder (sliced into 3-inch strips and reduce total cooking time by 10 minutes) instead of ribs. The pork benefits greatly from a long marinade period so be sure to plan ahead for maximum flavour.
Pork spare ribs or baby back ribs
- 2 lbs for 2 people with leftovers or if using air fryer (usually this is the max capacity).
- 4-5 lbs for 5 people.
For every 1 lb of ribs:
- 1.5 tablespoons Chinese/Shaoxing cooking wine (if you don’t have this, you can sub for any white wine, but you can purchase a bottle of Shaoxing wine very inexpensively in the international section of many supermarkets).
- 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons ketchup
- 1.5 tablespoons honey
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
Additional honey for finishing glaze
To make the marinade, in a small bowl mix together cooking wine, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, honey, salt, and five-spice powder.
Place the ribs into a shallow pan and pour the marinade over the ribs, making sure to coat the ribs completely.
Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours (or at least overnight), turning over halfway to make sure both sizes are fully marinated.
For the air fryer, preheat to 360F. Place the ribs directly inside and air fry for 30 to 35 minutes, turning halfway.
To cook in the oven, preheat the oven to 375F. Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil, and then place a metal rack on the sheet pan. Place the ribs onto the rack. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, turning halfway.
When you have 5-6 minutes of cooking time left, pull the ribs out and brush them generously with a coat of honey. For the air fryer, put the ribs back in and finish cooking. For the oven, turn on the broiler and broil the ribs until they are golden brown, then turn over to brush honey and broil the other side. Make sure to keep an eye on your ribs at this step so they don’t burn.
Once done, pull the ribs out and rest for 10 min before slicing. Get a napkin and enjoy!