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Pressure Cooker Rice-Steamed Pork Ribs (Fenzhengrou, 粉蒸肉)

Author: Kathy Yuan | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking


  • Pressure cooker
  • Large heatproof bowl


Steamed Pork Ribs

  • 500 grams crosscut pork ribs, chopped into roughly 1.5-inch pieces (ask the butcher to do so if it is not pre-cut) approx. 1 lbs
  • 750 grams kabocha squash, peeling optional, diced into 1-inch cubes (can sub taro, pumpkin or other hardy squash) approx. 1⅔ lbs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon 3-year aged Pixian doubanjiang
  • ½ tablespoon light soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • ½ tablespoon Shaoxing yellow rice wine (huangjiu) or other cooking wine (liaojiu)
  • teaspoon salt

Toasted Rice Powder

  • 70 grams glutinous/sticky rice approx. ⅓ cup
  • 70 grams jasmine rice approx. ⅓ cup
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed (xiao huixiang)
  • 1 whole star anise (bajiao)
  • ½ inch cassia bark (guipi)
  • 1 bay leaf (xiangye)
  • 1 teaspoon whole red Sichuan pepper (huajiao)
  • 1 thumb ginger, minced approx. 15-20 grams
  • 2 tablespoons water, as needed for mixing


Steamed Pork Ribs

  • In a medium bowl, soak the chopped ribs in enough cold water to cover for 10 minutes. Process the squash (skin peeling not required) while the ribs soak. After soaking, wash and rinse the ribs. Cover with more water, adding 1 tablespoon flour, and scrub at the ribs to clean off blood and any impurities. Rinse and wash until water runs mostly clear, not pink.
  • Add douban, soy sauces, Shaoxing/cooking wine and salt to the rib bowl. Combine and let marinate in fridge for 20 minutes while preparing the toasted rice powder.

Toasted Rice Powder

  • In a dry wok or skillet, toast the rice with spices over low-medium heat until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes, stirring/flipping occasionally. Toss frequently once the rice yellows so it browns evenly without burning. Let cool off the heat.
  • Process the cooled rice mixture in a food processor or mortar + pestle until roughly pulverized. You don't want everything to turn to fine powder, but some is desirable. Aim for rice pieces about the size of a couscous grain.
  • Add rice mixture to the liquid at the bottom of the marinating bowl first to let it hydrate. Add the minced ginger and toss to coat ribs evenly. Add the 2 tablespoons of additional water to the mix and combine, one tablespoon at a time, to ensure the rice powder coating isn't dry.
  • Line bottom and sides of heatproof steaming bowl with cubed squash, then top with rice-coated ribs.
  • Set up the pressure cooker with plenty of water and steam at high pressure for 45 minutes (we use the "Steam" setting). If your ribs are on the thicker side, they may benefit from steaming a little longer, around 50-60 minutes. Allow Instant Pot/multicooker setups to depressurize gradually on natural release. The ribs will be fall-off-the-bone tender and the squash will melt in your mouth. If not, you can continue to steam longer for 5-10 more minutes at a time with no problem.
    Serve immediately or keep warm and covered until ready to serve and enjoy!


If you don't have a pressure cooker, steam on the stovetop in a tightly-lidded steamer over medium heat for about 80-90 minutes depending on how deep your bowl is. Be sure to add enough water for the long process! It is difficult to overcook, and you can simply steam longer in 5-10 minute increments if it's not tender enough to your liking. You can start checking for fork-tenderness after 70 minutes.