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Sweet and Sour Ribs
4.81 from 21 votes
Servings: 4
Author: Lisa Lin

Mama Lin's Sweet and Sour Ribs

These sweet and sour ribs are seriously finger-licking good! It is easy to make: marinate small pieces of ribs for a few hours and cook it in the wok. Serve the dish with Chinese garlic green beans and jasmine rice.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Additional Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 40 mins


  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds strips of baby back ribs, between 1 to 1.5 inches wide (see note 1)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons Zhenjiang vinegar, also known as Chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking rice wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Optional Garnish

  • 1/3 cup pineapple chunks
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sliced scallions
  • gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes


  • Before slicing the ribs into smaller pieces, check the bone side of the ribs and remove any membrane (or silverskin) that’s covering the bones (it’s a relatively thick white layer). The silverskin can turn leathery once cooked and it can prevent the marinade from penetrating the meat. Use your fingers to grab onto that membrane and rip it off. 
  • Slice the strips of baby back ribs into small pieces by slicing in between each bone. Transfer the ribs to a medium mixing bowl. 
  • In a small bowl, mix the sugar, salt, garlic powder, vinegar, soy sauce, and rice wine. Pour the marinade over the ribs and stir to coat the ribs with the marinade. Cover the bowl and let the ribs marinate for at least 2 hours (or overnight). Periodically, give the ribs a stir to ensure that all the pieces are evenly marinated.
  • To cook the ribs, heat the canola oil in a wok (or sauté pan with a lid) over high heat. Using tongs, transfer the pieces of ribs to the wok. Stir fry the ribs for about 1 minute.
  • Pour the marinade into the wok and cover the wok with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the ribs for 7 minutes.
  • Uncover the wok. It is normal if you see a lot of liquid in the wok. Increase the heat back to medium-high and continue cooking the ribs until there’s barely any liquid left in the wok. This should take about 3 to 4 more minutes (see note 2). Stir the ribs frequently to ensure that they don’t burn. The ribs should look darker as you reduce the liquid.  
  • Turn off the heat. Mix in pineapple chunks, if you like. Sprinkle the ribs with sesame seeds, scallions, and gochugaru, if desired.
  • Transfer the sweet and sour ribs to a serving plate or bowl. Serve the sweet and sour ribs with Chinese garlic green beans, jasmine rice, or Chinese garlic cucumber salad.



  1. In Asian supermarkets, it is very common to see ribs that are cut into strips because Asian pork dishes tend to feature ribs with shorter bones. If you can't find the ribs already cut into strips, ask the butcher or person working at the meat counter to slice the pork for you into strips.
  2. Some people like to add 1 to 2 teaspoons of vinegar as they reduce the marinade so that the ribs will be more tangy. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.7g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 14.7g | Saturated Fat: 7.6g | Cholesterol: 126mg | Sodium: 645mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 11.5g
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