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I didn’t know what else to call them. Honestly. I googled and wiki-eed everything that had to do with spare ribs and couldn’t find the official names for these. My mother says that it’s a dish Chinese restaurants prepare for family meals, so I’m not sure if it’s ever been an official item. But do let me know what they’re called if you know!

So these are actually spare ribs. But instead of the traditional long ribs that we’ve come to love, they’re cut perpendicular to the bone. Just imagine a rack of ribs and instead of slicing with the grain, or in this case with the bone, you slice across the bone. The result is a small chunk of bone enclosed in tender meat.

(These are already lightly coated in cornstarch)

I have to admit- I thought it was such a total shame that these spare ribs would be defaced and prepared in a non-bbq spare rib manner. But after my mom made these… Let’s just say I’m torn between these and ribs.

I didn’t know what to call them, I made this name up. I tagged on the word “pop” because you pop them into your mouth (chew and spit the bone out, but that’s not very glamorous sounding is it?). It’s another one of my mom’s shortcuts because we use store bought sweet and sour sauce. But that doesn’t make it any less delicious.

The following recipe yields for about 20 of these “poppers.” In other words, a full rack. You can get this cut of meat by requesting it directly from the butcher.


  • Spare Ribs, cut into mini chunks (as described above)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (more if necessary)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup sweet and sour sauce
  • 1.5-2 cups oil (for frying)
  • Handful of chopped scallions (for garnish)

(We cheat and use spring roll sauce. But any sweet and sour sauce is fine)


  1. Prepare the meat by coating it in a thin layer of cornstarch. You may need to add more depending on how much meat you’re using, but you want it to look like the picture below. Make sure that the meat remains dry as any water will cause the oil to “jump” once the meat is being fried. Sprinkle a pinch of salt to season.
  2. In a wok (or in a pan that can hold oil for deep frying), heat the oil. You’ll know when the oil is ready by sticking a wooden spoon or chopstick into the oil and finding the oil bubbling away.
  3. Gently place about 5 chunks of the meat into the hot oil. Don’t overdo it or else it’ll start sticking and won’t crisp up. Let it sit and fry for about 5 minutes or until it is a dark golden brown. You want to make sure that the meat is fully cooked through.
  4. On the side, prepare the sauce by mixing the tablespoon of soy sauce into the sweet and sour sauce.
  5. When the first batch of rib pops are finished, repeat with the second batch, and third if necessary.
  6. After all the chunks are done, empty out the oil and clean the wok. Then, on low heat, warm the sweet and sour mixture.
  7. Transfer the rib pops into the wok and lightly coat them with the sweet and sour sauce.
  8. Garnish with scallions and transfer onto plate.
  9. Pop, chew, (and don’t swallow the bone).