If you had been to Singapore, you probably have had experienced ‘Zi Char (煮炒)’ in Singapore. ‘Zi Char (煮炒)’ refers to comforting Asian Chinese home-styled dishes cooked upon order. These stalls are usually found at humble local eateries and coffee shops in Singapore. The idea is to order a few dishes, share and eat them together. Some of the popular dishes include but are not limited to XO Fish Soup, Chilli Crab, Cereal Prawns, Sweet & Sour Pork, Prawn Paste Chicken Wings (Har Cheong Gai), Pork Ribs King, Salted Egg Yolk anything, Fried Sotong, Hotplate Tofu, Moonlight Hor Fun etc etc etc. You will usually be spoilt for choices! 

Back in Singapore, I have a few favorite ones and one of it is Keng Eng Kee (KEK) at Alexandra. And yes.. Coffee Pork Ribs is one of their star dishes. And so…. I decided to re-create and attempt it today. I said re-create as this dish has the ribs traditionally deep fried. As some of you would know, I always try to think of ways to make my food healthier. Erhhhh, Har Cheong Gai discounted. 

Ingredients (Ribs Seasoning)

  • 1 rack of Baby Back Ribs (approximately 950g or 2 pounds)
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 3 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar

Ingredients (Others)

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Liquid Smoke optional

Ingredients (Coffee Sauce)

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened Instant Coffee Powder* (not the 3-in-1)
  • 4 tbsp White Sugar (adjust to preference)
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Dark Soya Sauce 
  • 6 tbsp Water
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Mirin optional
  • 2 tbsp minced Garlic

 *was using supermarket brand coffee powder, didn’t see the need for branded coffee powder.

Ingredients (Garnish)

  • 1 stalk Cilantro/Chinese Coriander; stem removed optional
  • 1 Chilli Padi; cut optional


  1. Remove the membrane from ribs. 
  2. Cut the ribs into single pieces or half rack.
  3. Season ribs with all the spices and condiments listed under ‘Ingredients – Ribs Seasoning’. Let it sit 5-10 mins. 
  4. In the IP, add all the condiments listed under ‘Ingredients – Others’. Place a steaming trivet over it. Lay ribs over it but not immersed in the liquid. I stacked 3 layers. FYI, you could do it over just water, but I find it more fragrant with the above ingredients. 
  5. Set the IP to ‘Manual’, ‘High Pressure’ and 15 mins. Allow 15 mins Natural Release. You can do it 20 mins if you like it literally fall off the bone. I like some bite so I do it 15 mins. 
  6. While waiting for the IP to beep, make the sauce by mixing all the spices and condiments under ‘Ingredients – Coffee Sauce’. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degree Celcius. If using the Airfryer, use 320 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degree Celcius. You can use the broil mode too!
  8. Heat the sauce over a medium fire till it thickens/caramelized. You will need to stir it to prevent it from being burnt. You can also use the sauté low mode in the IP to do so. It takes about 5 mins. 
  9. Baste the ribs in the sauce.
  10. Grill for 6 mins (3 mins each side) if using the oven and 6 mins (3 mins each side) if using the Airfryer. You can also broil for about 2 mins each side. *dont over do it as you will end up burning it due to the coffee sauce. 
  11. Garnish!


Die die want to Deep-Fry

If you really really want to deep fry the ribs. Add 1 tsp Baking Soda, 4 tbsp Rice Flour, 2 tbsp Potato Starch, 1 beaten Egg and 6 tbsp Water to the ribs seasoning. You will need to seal and let it refrigerate for 1 hour instead. Deep fry till golden brown. Drain and set aside. Make the sauce in a pan, add ribs when it thickens. Coat the ribs, garnish and serve hot!