One of the most popular dishes on P. F. Chang's appetizer menu is the spare ribs that comes slathered with Asian-style barbecue sauce. The Asian flavors you pick up comes from the addition of sweet hoisin sauce to a fairly rudimentary barbecue sauce formula. Chang's menu says these ribs are spare ribs although they appear to be much smaller, more like baby backs. You can certainly use either for this recipe, just be sure to trim the ribs first, since the restaurant version is lean, clean ribs with no extra meat or fat hanging off.
1 cup ketchup
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hoisin sauce (I make my own from a recipe found here.)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 rack pork spare ribs
4 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon diced green onion
1. Make the sauce by combining ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until thick. Cool.
2. To cook the ribs the P. F. Chang's way, you will need to first boil them in water. Heat up 12 to 16 cups of water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add a couple teaspoons of salt to the water. As water boils, trim the excess fat and meat off the ribs. Slice between the bones of each rib to separate the ribs. When the water is boiling, toss the ribs in, bring the water back to a boil and boil the ribs for 12 to 14 minutes. No pink will show when they are done. Remove ribs to a plate to cool.
3. When the ribs have cooled you can either store them in an airtight bag in the refrigerator until you are ready for the final cooking step, or you can move on to that step now by heating up 4 cups of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. The oil should be about 375 degrees. You can also use a deep fryer for this step, but your fryer will likely require more oil.
4. When the oil is hot, drop 4 to 6 ribs at a time into the oil. Fry for 2 to 4 minutes or until the meat browns. Drain off the ribs on a rack or paper towels. Fry all the ribs before moving on to the next step.
5. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, toss in all the ribs and coat with the sauce. Simmer the ribs in the sauce for about a minute while stirring and dump the ribs onto a serving plate when they are all well-coated with sauce.
6. Sprinkle the ribs with sesame seeds and about a tablespoon of diced green onion, and serve with a pile of napkins.
Makes an appetizer for 2 to 5.