Fall Apart Tender Takeout-Style

December 20, 2022

My inner father is coming out today as I share my secret recipe for Chinese fall apart tender takeout-style.


The rib tip is what the butcher trims off the ends of the spare ribs to make a squarer cut. They’re a specialty cut that’s a Chinese kitchen secret!

They have tender bones and cartilage that, when cooked properly, taste like butter. No, I’m not trying to overstate the case. I think you’ll see what I mean if you follow this recipe to the letter.

You can get pork rib tips at a lot of Chinese takeout places, and you can usually get them with either fried or plain rice. Chinese barbecue rib tips with fried rice were always at the top of the takeout menu at my parent’s restaurant, and it wasn’t a fluke because that’s what people wanted to get night after night.


The two-fold secret to these succulent pork rib tips is: To begin, there is the Chinese-style barbecue sauce. Maltose is the key ingredient that gives it that authentic Chinese restaurant taste and consistency.

The second step is to cook them in the oven until they are tender. While the image of flesh dripping down a bone may spring to mind, the uniqueness of these rib tips lies in the fact that they consist entirely of tender white bone and cartilage. It’s rich in flavor and extremely easy on the palate.

Tendon, cartilage, and other chewy meats are particularly popular in Chinese cuisine. Consider beef shin, chicken feet, pig feet, sliced pig’s ear, etc., all prepared in various ways and braised.

It’s one of the great, shockingly exquisite textures in Chinese food, despite the fact that the name gives it a bad rap. Even better for the health-conscious among you is the fact that the collagen in the soft pig bones is great for your skin and joints.


Exactly where do you source such succulent rib tips? Before you run out to the store and grab this piece of meat, there are a few things you should know.

As a rule, pre-cut ribs in supermarkets will be lengthy racks of ribs that are all the same width. The ends of these ribs have, alas, been lopped off. You need a complete rack of ribs.

The lower part of each rib is made of hard bone, while the upper part is made of cartilage.

Get a chef’s knife and split the rack of ribs in half lengthwise.

A rack of ribs with the excess fat taken off is on the left, while the entire rib tip is on the right.

You may either leave the ribs whole and marinade and bake them, as I suggest, or cut them into smaller pieces. The recipe and preparation are foolproof, and the end result is mouthwatering. The ribs were the talk of Judy and the ladies. Productivity ground to a halt the day we blogged them as everyone gorged themselves on ribs and fried rice.

Serve these Chinese Pork Rib Tips baked in the oven with your choice of white rice, veggie fried rice, or another type of fried rice. Learn all about the fantastic world of pork rib tips. Sup, folks!


  • 1.4 kg of pork rib tips
  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • ¼ cup of hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of maltose (can substitute honey)
  • 3 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of five spice powder
  • 4 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of red food coloring


  1. Dry the pork rib tips with paper towels after giving them a quick rinse.
  2. Blend the maltose and hot water together in a large basin using a spatula. The maltose in the marinade will be very thick and sticky, but the hot water will assist to loosen and liquefy it so it can be used more easily. The substance could be mistaken for super glue. Your hands will soften it more quickly, but a spatula will do the trick as well. Maltose can also be liquefied by microwaving it for 10 seconds. The rich stickiness of maltose is well worth the effort required to work with it. We’d love to hear about your honey/agave substitutions if you can’t find maltose in the comments.
  3. Garlic, hoisin sauce, salt, sugar, five spice powder, Shaoxing wine, ketchup, and red food coloring, if using, should be added.
  4. The rib tip pieces should be added next, and the BBQ sauce should be rubbed into the meat until it is thoroughly coated. If you want the rib tips to be soft and juicy, you can cut them into smaller pieces, but I prefer to leave them whole. Marinate the rib tips for a full day in the sauce before serving (12 to 24 hours).
  5. Take the ribs out of the fridge an hour or two after marinating and let them sit at room temperature. The oven needs to be heated to 325 degrees F. Prevent the ribs from sticking by lining a sheet pan or roasting pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil. Wrap the foil around the dish, and bake the rib tips. You will need two slabs. The marinade can be used as a basting liquid afterward.
  6. After 30 minutes, turn the ribs over, baste them again, and finish cooking them in the oven for another 10 minutes. Re-shield with aluminum foil. Put them back into the oven at a temperature of 275 degrees F.
  7. Two more cycles of this method equal an additional 60 minutes of cooking time. After 90 minutes, baste again and return to the oven without the foil.
  8. For the final hour, baste the ribs every 20 minutes. Now is the time to raise the temperature in the oven to 325 degrees F if you want the rib tips to develop a somewhat crispy bark. If the rib tips are drying out and beginning to burn, add 2 teaspoons of water to the pan.
  9. The rib ends should be moved with caution to a cutting board. When I claimed they’d be fall-apart tender, I wasn’t joking. Cut into small pieces and serve over white or fried rice.
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