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China Red Ribs

After our experiment with the Chinese Pork Hocks turned out more than satisfactory, these succulent fall-off-the-bone sweet and smoky Chinese Spare Ribs were a logical next step. These Chinese pork ribs are coloured bright red by the typical Chinese / Cantonese Char Siu marinade.

Chinese bbq pork or Cantonese pork barbecue is also known as Cha Siu, Cha Sui, Cha Siew, Char Siu, Char Sui, Char Siew, Shao Siu, Shao Sui, Shao Siew, Tsja Siu, Tsja Sui, Tsja Siew, and a few more name variations - all meaning the same thing.

Photo of hot smoked Chinese Char Siu pork ribs.

We first marinated these Chinese ribs overnight in a Char Sui marinade, then hot smoked them - slow and easy - for four hours on charcoal briquettes and chunks of oak smoke wood at a temperature in between 250F and 320F.

At Hot Smoke BBQ we like to smoke our porkribs for like 4 hours at medium smoking temperature until you can easily suck the meat right off the bone without using your teeth...

After 3 hours of smoking we started to apply our Hot Smoke BBQ Cha Siu Glazing until these Chinese pork ribs looked bright red and shining!

Actually, these are baby back ribs. In our local supermarkets and butcher shops it is not possible to buy the regular pork spareribs. No worry! From my American friends I understand that this is a blessing in disguise...

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Photo of pork ribs from the supermarket. China Red Ribs Ingredients

For this hot smoked Chinese spareribs recipe you will need the following ingredients:

3-5 pounds
1 cup
1 cup
Baby Back Ribs or Spare Ribs
Cha Siu Marinade
Cha Siu Glazing

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

China Red Ribs Preparation

Preparation of the meat

For these Chinese spare ribs the preparation of the meat goes as usual:


Rinse the porkribs under cold running water, removing all loose particles (especially bone);


Blot porkribs dry using paper towels;


Photo of cutting dangling pieces of meat or fat from the rib slab. Cut off any dangling pieces of meat, excess skin or excess fat;


To obtain better ribs, we remove the membrane that covers the hollow side of the slab. Without this tough membrane the ribs will be easier to eat, and the flavours of the marinade will be able to penetrate these Chinese bbq ribs from both sides;

Remove the membrane by pulling it from the thickest en of the rib slab towards the thinner end;

Photo of making a start for the removal of the membrane from the hollow side of the rib slab. The easiest way to make a start for the removal of the membrane is to push your finger, a blunt pointed table knife, or screwdriver in between the membrane and the last rib on the thickest end of the slab;

Photo of removal of the membrane from the hollow side of the rib slab. Once you have made a start, use your bare hands or a pair of pliers to pull the membrane loose towards the thinner end of the slab;

Photo showing how the hollow side of the slab will look without the membrane.


On the photo above you can see how the hollow side of the slab will look without the membrane. Notice the open structure of the meat!


If necessary, trim the length of the spare rib slabs to suit the size of your barbecue;

By removing one or more rib sections from the thinner end of the slab, the remaining slab as a whole will have a more even thickness, thus making it easier to smoke;
At the same time, the thinner "waste" ribs will be done earlier, giving the PitBoss a nice opportunity to pre-taste his ribs!


Photo of Pork Ribs in Char Siew marinade - are these babies red, or what?. Put the spare ribs into the Cha Siu Marinade;

Here you can see clearly why we call this recipe China RED Ribs...

For marinating flat pieces of meat like this Chinese bbq meat I prefer to use a shallow sealable plastic container;


Allow the spare ribs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour, but prefereably overnight;


Take the spare ribs out to the fridge about one hour before you plan to put them on the grill; In this way you allow the temperature of the ribs to increase a bit already before you expose them to your hot barbecue.

How To Set Up a Weber Grill

Here's some info on how we set up our Weber Grill for maximum performance:

Juancho's Split Grill

Photo of Juancho's Split Grill by Blue Smoke BBQ. To obtain sustained lower heat and improved temperature control, and to increase the grate area and be able to accommodate more meat or larger cuts, I developed an improved hot smoking method whereby the Weber Grill is set up for indirect grilling on one side.

Juancho's Double Grill

Photo of Juancho's Double Grill by Blue Smoke BBQ. Whereas Juancho's Split Grill will increase capacity and improve performance of your Weber Grill, Juancho's Double Grill will double the indirect grilling and hot smoking capacity.

Photo of China Red Ribs, Juancho's Split Grill, and basket of smoke wood chunks. Here's the basics for a great BBQ session: China Red Ribs, Juancho's Split Grill, and basket of smoke wood.

Once the barbecue had been set up and pre-heated, I took the pork spare ribs out of the Chinese Cha Sui marinade, put them on the grate above the drip pan, and closed the lid of the barbecue.

Photo of China Red Ribs on the barbecue grate. China Red Ribs on the barbecue grate

While the top vent holes in the lid will always stay fully open, I shut the bottom vent holes to 1/4 open.

Note: Don't throw away the remaining cha siu marinade. It can be used to make a wonderful Cha Siu Glazing!

Hot Smoked Spare Ribs = Slow Food

As these slowfood pork ribs will have to cook on slow heat for a number of hours, I use a electronic thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature inside the barbecue.

By opening and closing the barbecue's bottom vent holes you can keep the temperature inside the barbecue within a certain range.

For hot smoking spare ribs my goal was to keep the temperature inside the barbecue within the 250F - 320F range (roughly 120-160 degrees celcius).

This may seem very easy, but you have to watch it...

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Let's Smoke!

With those bright red Cantonese spareribs sitting in that black backyard microwave, take it easy. Have a seat, have a drink, check the fire, look at that whisp of smoke.

While those ribs are smoking, read a book, listen to your favourite music. Relax.

Keep monitoring the temperature inside your smoker, and try to resist peeking under the lid too often. Every time you open your barbecue you will loose heat, and the cooking process will take longer.

On the other hand, if you have the time anyway, what the heck...

Photo of Chinese Char Siew spare ribs after 1.5 hours of hot smoking in the barbecue smoker. After about 1.5 hours of smoking at temperatures in between 280F and 320F, I opened the barbecue to check if the smoking was going according to plan.

The ribs and everything else looked just fine. I only had to replenish the water in the evaporation bowl.

Photo of Chinese Char Siu spare ribs after 3 hours of hot smoking in the barbecue smoker, with 1st layer of Char Siew Glazing applied. I then continued at slightly lower temperatures of 250F to 290F, and after about 3 hours of smoking I applied the first layer of Cha Sui Glazing Sauce onto the ribs using a wide brush.

As you can see on the picture, the spare ribs had turned a bit darker.

Photo of Cantonese Cha Siu spare ribs with a few layers of glazing applied. From this point onwards, the mopping with the Cha Sui Glazing Sauce was repeated every fifteen minutes or so. Meanwhile, the temperature inside the barbecue was kept in between 250F and 270F.

Photo of Hot Smoked China Red Ribs China Red Ribs - after 4 hours of hot smoking.

Chow Time!

After 4 hours of hot smoking the bone tips were showing themselves to signify that these ribs were done.

You could leave them on the grill for a bit more, but from this point onwards the ribs will tend to dry.

I transferred the China Red Ribs from the grill to a cutting board, covered them with aluminium foil, and let them rest so the internal juices could redistribute inside the meat.

Photo of hot smoked Chinese barbecue spare ribs. After four hours of indirect grilling these Chinese barbecue pork ribs turned out sweet and spicy, tender and juicy.

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

The Pitboss Suggests:

Chinese barbecue meat goes very well together with fried rice and stir fry Chinese vegetables.

You could also simply enjoy these Cantonese barbecue pork ribs with plain white rice and green beans.

Malaysian Rice with Ginger, Garlic and Shallots

Photo of Malaysian Rice with Garlic, Ginger and Shallots - by Blue Smoke BBQ. This Malaysian Rice Dish is a wonderful companion for your Asian barbecue like grilled satay or roasted Oriental chicken.

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

Barbecue Technology...

Here's some more barbeque "technology", if you like:

Hot Smoke BBQ Charcoal Briquettes

At Hot Smoke BBQ we love Chile Peppers!

Keep Smokin' !