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a plate of steamed pork spare ribs on top of kabocha squash

steamed pork spare ribs with kabocha squash

Steamed pork spare ribs are a classic dish at dim sum! It’s also a dish my parents would often make at home, my favorite version being this one with fermented black bean and kabocha squash

How to make delicious steamed pork spare ribs at home

At restaurants, they achieve the light color on these ribs by keeping them under a constant running stream of water. I don’t really care to achieve that at home, but promise that these are super tasty. These pork ribs are tenderized by the cornstarch and baking soda, and infused with extra flavor from papa smelly’s aromatic oil. He’s always taught me that having both raw aromatics and cooked, fragrant aromatics add depth of flavor (there’s even a Cantonese phrase for this)!

The kabocha squash soaks up all the delicious juices from the pork and the marinade — I find myself eating all of the squash first because it’s so good! If you don’t like kabocha, my family also sometimes subs taro. Or you can just leave it out completely and increase the amount of pork! 

Where to buy pork spare ribs

You can buy these mostly prepped spare ribs (like the ones shown in the video) at Costco or 99 Ranch! Since they come in strips, there’s need to chop through bones. You can also get them prepped this way at many Asian grocery stores with a butcher.

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a plate of steamed pork spare ribs on top of kabocha squash

Steamed Pork Spare Ribs with Kabocha Squash

This classic dim sum dish paired with the seasonal kabocha squash is so tasty — you'll be surprised that you can easily make this at home!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2


  • 10-12 oz pork spare ribs
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 6 oz kabocha squash or taro, (if not using, can increase pork to 1lb and increase marinade ingredients by 1.5)


  • 1 tbsp fermented black bean
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/16 tsp white pepper
  • 1/16 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot or onion
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, thinly sliced

Aromatic oil

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (avocado, grapeseed, canola, vegetable, etc.)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot or onion
  • 1 tbsp fermented black bean
  • tiny pinch salt

Optional garnish

  • cilantro or scallions
  • red peppers


Prepare the aromatics

  • Prepare fermented black bean by rinsing them then soaking in warm water. Let sit while you prepare other ingredients. 
  • Mince the garlic and shallots (2 tbsp of each total, which will be split between the marinade and the aromatic oil). Thinly slice the ginger. 

Prepare and marinade the pork

  • Slice pork spare ribs into individual 1-2 inch pieces. Rinse under cool water, drain, then add 1 tbsp cornstarch, massage, and rinse until water runs clear. Drain and dry well with a paper towel. 
    10-12 oz pork spare ribs, 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Add all the ingredients in the marinade, except for the cornstarch and sesame oil. For more black bean flavor, crush some of the black beans.
    1 tbsp fermented black bean, 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine, 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/16 tsp white pepper, 1/16 tsp baking soda, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 tbsp minced shallot or onion, 1 inch knob of ginger, thinly sliced
  • Mix well, then add cornstarch. Once incorporated, add sesame oil, give it a final mix, then let it marinate for 15-30 min. 
    1 tbsp cornstarch, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil

Prepare the kabocha and aromatic oil

  • In the meantime, slice the kabocha squash into 1/4 inch thick pieces. If it’s too hard to slice through, microwave or steam the squash for a few minutes until it softens a bit. 
    6 oz kabocha squash
  • Prepare the aromatic oil by heating up 2 tbsp neutral oil with the remaining minced garlic, shallots, fermented black bean, and a tiny pinch of salt. To release more black bean flavor, crush some of them in the oil. Cook on medium heat until fragrant, or about 2-3 minutes. 
    2 tbsp neutral oil, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 tbsp fermented black bean, tiny pinch salt, 1 tbsp minced shallot or onion

Steam the pork ribs

  • Using a plate that has sides (not a completely flat plate), arrange a single layer of kabocha squash on the bottom.  Top with a single layer of the marinated pork spare ribs and any remaining marinade. Spoon some of the aromatic oil all over the top. 
  • Steam covered for 20 minutes. Heat has to be high enough to maintain a steady amount of steam during the cooking process. Carefully remove, top with garnishes, and enjoy! 
    cilantro or scallions, red peppers
Keyword cantonese spare ribs, steamed pork spare ribs
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