Five-Spice Pork Ribs with Ginger, Soy and Sesame

Courtesy of Steve Johnson, chef and co-owner of the Blue Room in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As one of the principle organizers for the Boston chapter of the Chefs Collaborative 2000, Johnson works with a national network of chef/activists who concentrate on political issues related to food.

For this recipe, Johnson recommends Niman Ranch St. Louis-style spare ribs.


For the rub

1/4 c ground coriander

2 tbsp Chinese 5-spice

2 tbsp ground star anise

1 tsp ground fennel seed

1 tsp ground ginger

3 tbsp hot chili powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp red chili flakes

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 c salt

2 tbsp brown sugar

For the Sauce

1 c sesame oil

2 tbsp minced ginger

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 c white wine

The juice of two oranges

1/2 tsp 5-spice

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

1/2 tsp whole star anise

1/4 c balsamic vinegar

1/4 c soy sauce

2 tbsp white sugar


Sesame seeds for garnish

Cooking Instructions

  1. Apply a liberal amount of the prepared spice mix to the ribs and rub it in.
  2. Let the ribs stand while you prepare your oven or grill.
  3. At home, Johnson uses a large Weber kettle, smoking over indirect heat for about 2-3 hours, turning occasionally, until the ribs are mahogany brown all over and the meat is very tender. You can also cook in an oven roasting rack at 275F for 2-2 1/2 hours.
  4. While the ribs are cooking, in a small saute pan, gently simmer the ginger and garlic in the sesame oil for one minute.
  5. Add the wine and the orange juice and simmer again for 3-4 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about one-half, then stir the remaining ingredients.
  6. Serve the sauce alongside the ribs or generously spoon sauce over them. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.

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