In Citrus, Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson offer chapters dedicated to different citrus fruits. There you will find ideas leveraging the specific chemistry each citrus variety offers. In the tangerine chapter you’ll find this lively riff on those sticky ribs you may relish in your local Chinese restaurant. Instead of the typical orange beef recipe, here you find the additional quality offered by tangerines — one of those citrus fruits we often overlook.

For this recipe, you want two additional things: lots of napkins and plenty of beer. The headnotes to this recipe say it is finger-lickin’ good. Maybe you won’t need all those napkins after all.

Tangerine Sticky Ribs

Yield: serves 4 to 6


  • 1 rack baby back pork ribs, about 3 pounds
  • 4 to 6 star anise pods
  • Peels from 2 tangerines, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup orange blossom honey
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five- spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek [a sauce of chili peppers, salt and distilled vinegar]
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tangerine peel, for garnish


Rinse the ribs under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the ribs in a baking dish, sprinkle with the star anise, and set aside.

To make the marinade, in a blender, combine all of the ingredients and process until the mixture is fairly smooth. Pour over the ribs, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Place the covered dish in the oven and cook for 2 ½ hours.

Remove the ribs from the oven. Remove the foil and set aside. Baste the ribs with the sauce and return to the oven, uncovered. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove the ribs from the oven and tent with the reserved foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Transfer the rack to a cutting board and cut between the bones. Serve with a sprinkle of tangerine peel.

Source: Citrus by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson [10 Speed Press, 2015]