Steamed Pork Spare Ribs in Lotus Leaves

, from Issue #32. September, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Steamed Pork Spare Ribs in Lotus Leaves

Ask your butcher to chop the spare ribs into 4 cm lengths or you can do it yourself using a sturdy meat cleaver.


1 kilogram meaty pork spare ribs cut 4 cm long

1 tablespoon cornflour
½ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
4 tablespoons water
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil

To cook
3-4 lotus leaves
8 pieces baking paper to line the leaves


Put the spare ribs into a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil, skimming the surface as necessary. Cook at a fast simmer for 20 minutes then drain well and rinse under cold water.

Marinade: Combine the cornflour, 5 spice and 1 tablespoon of the water in a small bowl and stir to make a smooth paste. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir in the cornflour mixture. Add the spare ribs and turn well to coat.

Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Cut the tough stalk end off the lotus leaves then cut out 8 large pieces. Place in a large dish and cover with very hot water for 30 minutes to soften. Drain well and pat dry. Place a piece of baking paper in the centre of each leaf and top with a small pile of ribs and marinade.

Bring the sides together to form a pouch and tie the top securely with kitchen string.

Place the parcels in a steaming basket set over a wok or large saucepan of boiling water. Steam for 30-40 minutes until very tender and the meat has pulled away from the bone. Makes 8 parcels

Pantry note: Bags of dried lotus leaves are available from Asian food stores and generally contain 6-7 very large leaves. Some can be quite ripped or mottled so cut out large unblemished pieces for wrapping the spare ribs.