Northside SF
The Kitchenless Cook
Celebrate spring with sweet and savory Chinese ribs

Sweet and savory ribs
photo: James Armstrong
Now, I’m not normally the type of person to complain about the weather. I enjoy the fact that we, the residents of the Bay Area, have moderate weather all year round, but the rain this year really put a damper on my grilling activities. But now that it is finally looking like spring, I look forward to cooking outside again on a regular basis.
But what is a grill guy going to do to get his fix of ribs during the off-season? I often go to one of the many Everett and Jones restaurants throughout the East Bay for their barbecue ribs. But, this year I was craving something a little different than the traditional BBQ ribs. A friend recommended I try the sweet and savory ribs from The Brick Yard (1787 Union Street at Octavia, 415-400-4712,, and they were just what I was looking for.
Chef Aaron Little was turned on to an old family recipe from his sous chef Irene Yim for Chinese ribs and decided it had to be on his menu. I asked if he would share the recipe, and let me pass it on to my readers. He graciously agreed and has even included an alternate method for the deep-frying step. The recipe has a lot of steps, but if you have tried these ribs at the Brickyard, you will be looking forward to making them for your friends and family.


Sweet and Savory Ribs with Jalapenos and Cilantro Oil

Adapted from The Brick Yard Restaurant & Bar
Serves 6

2   racks of baby back ribs
2   tablespoons salt, divided
2   teaspoons black pepper
1   teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 egg whites, beaten
2   cups cornstarch
Vegetable or peanut oil for frying


½  cup of sugar
1   cup black vinegar*
2   tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3   tablespoons olive oil
6   teaspoons chopped garlic
1   finely sliced jalapeno
Cilantro oil or micro cilantro for garnish
Prepare a medium-hot grill. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Combine 1 tablespoon salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and evenly spread/sprinkle over ribs. Grill ribs over medium-hot flames until browned on each side, then wrap tightly in aluminum foil. (I recommend double wrapping to create a better seal.)

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 3 hours. Remove and let cool to room temperature, and then slice between each rib.

Heat vegetable or peanut oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 375 degrees. Dredge the cooled ribs in egg whites and then the cornstarch mixed with remaining 1 tablespoon of salt. Deep fry the ribs 4 at a time for approximately 4 minutes or until the cornstarch has bloomed and turned a light brown. Drain on paper towels.

To prepare without a deep fryer
: Beat 12 whole eggs and then add 1½ cups of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon salt; mix well. Coat the cooled ribs and place on a sheet pan. Cook in a preheated 375-degree oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Put ribs in large roasting pan or bowl.


Combine the sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until the sugar dissolves and set aside. In a large hot skillet, add the olive oil, garlic and the sliced jalapeno. When the garlic is slightly toasted, add the sugar and vinegar mixture. When the sauce is hot and bubbling, remove from heat. Pour sauce over ribs, and toss evenly to coat.

To serve, garnish with cilantro oil or cilantro.

*Can be found in most Chinese grocery stores

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