Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Ribs

I’ve had so many requests for my Vietnamese Caramelized Ribs!

Part of their appeal, of course, is the sticky, sweet-salty glaze. But the other is that you don’t need a grill or any fancy equipment. You begin with an inexpensive cut of meat and after about 15 minutes worth of work, you pop the whole thing in the oven for a couple of hours. Later, you’ll pull out a roasting pan with a jumble of the most succulent, moist, juicy caramelized ribs you can imagine, with no effort.

Check out the recipe in my book, My Paris Kitchen!

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Ribs

Never miss a post!


  • February 4, 2008 12:40pm

    This all sounds wonderful and drool-worthy. I’m going to have to follow along in your trail and make up a batch of those ribs, they look amazing. And yes, your newsletter looked great in my gmail inbox. Thanks!

  • February 4, 2008 1:09pm

    Thanks David! I’m a Chubby Hubby big fan and reader. Korean food is so yummy, I miss so great addresses I had back in the bay area. In France I haven’t seen a lot of Korean places … sadly …

  • Susan
    February 4, 2008 1:37pm

    Those Vietnamese caramelized ribs look totally irresistible! Hmm, am I sensing a theme in recent postings? Related to an upcoming book, maybe?

    BTW, my Mac mail client read your newsletter as 12-point but it looks really small for 12-point. Granted, my eyes are getting old, but even with glasses it looks small. MacMail thinks your site is in 14-point; is that right?

    I guess standardization on the Web has a ways to go.

  • Heather
    February 4, 2008 2:52pm

    I want to make these ribs but my boyfriend hates the Fish sauce. Is there anything else I can use…I am going to try the extra ginger and pepper and probably the chinese vinegar.


  • February 4, 2008 3:30pm

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t think they’ll be coming out with eau de fish sauce any time soon:) I think fish sauce an integral ingredient in Viet cooking and I can’t imagine using a substitute. I’ve noticed that anchovy steam seems to linger on your clothing and skin even longer than cigarette smoke.

    How about adding lemongrass to marinade?

  • February 4, 2008 3:36pm

    David, I made a similar thing after reading a post at Sunday Night Dinner. Delicious! In that recipe, they used lemongrass, which I think adds that little extra something something.

    I have a friend whose mom wears a lab coat when stir-frying to keep the pungent aromas off her clothes. Maybe something to look into? :-)

  • Steve
    February 4, 2008 4:49pm

    I wonder whether your stinky neighbor has his own blog where he writes about HIS neighbor who always has unusual smells emanating from his apartment.

  • February 4, 2008 4:54pm

    Steve: LOL!!! (That was funny..thanks for cracking me up…)

    Babeth: Yes, Korean food isn’t widely known here. Japanese food (the real stuff, not those icky sushi chains) is becoming more prominent, so maybe Korean is next.

    Heather: I bet water mixed with a little soy sauce and vinegar, in the same proportion, would be great too.

  • Ann
    February 4, 2008 8:34pm

    I’m Vietnamese and a huge fan of caramelization, and I think the best preparation in the world is with a fillet of catfish in a clay pot. Oh my goodness, so delicious. I’ll have to find you a good recipe for that.

    Another thing that I like to do for a really quick meal is to add about a tablespoon or two of sugar to a pan, let it get all brown and caramelized, then add in a diced onion, and ground turkey or pork, and season with a LOT of black pepper and fish sauce to taste. Simple but tasty preparation that takes two seconds to put together. And it goes with everything…from rice, as a salad topper, in porridge…

  • Cecilia
    February 4, 2008 9:12pm

    OHHHhhhhh yummmm…. I LOVE LOVE to have that as my dinner today ….ohh…carameli-sed RIBS!! Good lord I must be in heaven :)

    psstt… do u love korean bbq ribs?!! If yes .. pls hope over to SteamyKitchen

    Just TRUST ME…TRUST ME … it’s sooo good!! Nothing out of a jar could taste that good! :)

  • February 5, 2008 12:35am

    You were wise to braise the ribs in the oven, David. The problem with stovetop braising is it’s difficult to keep the cooking temperature low enough to avoid drying out [and toughening up] the meat.

  • KatyBelle
    February 5, 2008 12:51am

    The font on the newsletter was fine for me, but then I have a Mac laptop, so my perception might be a little skewed.

  • Murasaki Shikibu
    February 5, 2008 1:04am

    Font size was great and so was the layout!

    I started using reading glasses about 1 year ago and I’m really beginning to feel the strain when I have to read small print :p

  • February 5, 2008 5:01am

    Hi David,
    This is totally unrelated to this post (although the ribs and kimchee do sound yummy), but after reading your FAQ, I decided to put a question here instead of emailing you.

    This is a general cake/frosting question. My husband and I are good at cooking almost everything, but simple cakes elude us. The crumb is too big and the texture verges on being rubbery, and it doesn’t seem to matter what recipe we are using. Can you give me any hints to make a nicely textured, small-crumbed cake (a quatre-quarts or genoise)?

    I am thinking that there is a temperature issue with the butter when creaming (too warm/cold/soft hard- gets over creamed?), but need to dig out my McGee to be absolutely sure (I started reading it from cover to cover, made it to fruits and veggies, and then life stepped in and I put it down somewhere in our house).

    This last time our (okay- HIS- it wasn’t me this time!) buttercream frosting was greasy as well, which is why I thought it may be a temp issue. He brought the butter out of the fridge and put it directly in the mixer bowl. When I asked if he was going to soften it, he said that the beating would soften it. I disagreed- funny how one can argue over something so silly! Anyway it ended up with a gritty texture (even though we used sucre glace) and greasy mouthfeel.

    Thank you from Lyon, France for any advice or hints you can give!

    Cheryl Stauffer

  • Carolyn
    February 5, 2008 7:45am

    Got your newsletter — thanks for all of the hard work you put into it!

    The font was fine for me, but I’m guessing going a little smaller might work better. (and with the photos, too.) My resolution is 1280×1024 and it still was a little on the large size.

    But I loved it and the pix! Thank you again for all that youdo!

  • February 5, 2008 8:26am

    Cheryl: Since you live in France, the ingredients are different if you’re baking from an American cookbook. Check out my post American Baking in Paris. Greasy buttercream may be a result of the higher butterfat in French butter.

    As for cake textures, use room temperature butter and really beat it well to aerate it. But don’t beat the batter with the flour; that’ll build gluten and you’ll get a tough cake.

    Next time you head to the states, you might want to pick up a copy of The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. It’s the best book on cakemaking I know of…author Flo Braker is a whiz in the kitchen

  • rosasharne
    February 5, 2008 10:32am

    David, I made these last night and my boyfriend plotzed. Score. First time ever making ribs. Thanks!

  • Gael
    February 5, 2008 11:54am

    That reminds me that I need to eat some ‘thit kho’ for the Vietnamese New Year.

  • Alexandra
    February 5, 2008 12:07pm

    Those look sooo good!
    Must go out for Korean at lunch today…now!

  • Dana
    February 5, 2008 12:36pm

    I can’t believe I missed you on Sirius yesterday!! I’ll have to try to catch the replay when it airs something this weekend…

  • February 5, 2008 4:11pm

    I’ve only made ribs once before and while it turned out to be pretty easy I’m still a little gun-shy that I’ll muck ’em up. I think giving these a shot might dispel some of that fear though. Damn I wish I hadn’t already eaten lunch… I live across the street from a Korean BBQ. Damn, damn, damn.

  • February 5, 2008 10:49pm

    Caramelizing meat before stewing and braising is just perfect. I love “Red Cooked Pork,” a Chinese dish braised in a soy sauce based liquid. I always like to caramelize the pork first although many recipe call for the pork to be boiled first. Caramelizing not only results in better color but also flavor the dish.

  • February 6, 2008 12:02am

    Tròi Oi (OMG! in Vietnamese ) this bring back delicious memories!! This was a family favorite when I was growing up! Dad made many variations of this. His favorite addition for that extra zing was adding herbs to it- crushed lemongrass to the marinade or eating it with peppery rau ram herbs. Thanks for the tasty reminder!

  • February 6, 2008 1:26am

    I just hate tough superball ribs.
    The restaurant I work at serves (usually) tough ribs, and they charge a lot of money for them. I feel sorry for the customers when I take their order.

    These look good, though. I’m getting into Vietnamese food. I made some phở the other night.

  • Murasaki Shikibu
    February 7, 2008 7:20pm

    Heather: If your boyfriend doesn’t hate anchovies you can use this as a substitute.

    Last year I had this craving for Lahb Moo (Thai food) that requires fish sauce and I couldn’t find any at Carrefour (in Spain). Anyway from experience I know that Thai food just doesn’t taste right without fish sauce so I had to think of something.

    Then I remembered reading about Garum – the fish sauce that the Romans used – which was made from anchovies pretty much…and anchovies are really easy to find in Spain. In reality you have to make Garum from the anchovies but I didn’t want to do that so I just liquified the fish.

    I melted some anchovies in olive oil (peanut oil would have been preferable but hey – they don’t have that here either!) and the Lahb Moo turned out ok. A bit different but delicious and it didn’t have that awful flat taste when you omitt the fish sauce.

    Because fish sauce is one of those ‘hidden flavors’ in the dish – don’t put so much that you know there’s anchovies in it! I’d say 1-2 filets would be enough. If your boyfriend’s finicky about fish smells in general – only put 1 filet.

    Of course it won’t be as good as using real fish sauce but it will be much closer to the original than without it. :)


  • ayami
    February 11, 2008 4:56am


    Please try this new Korean restaurant in the 15th. It’s got a refined twist that you’ve got to check out!!

    Gwon’s Dining
    51 rue Cambronne
    Phone: 01 47 34 53 17


  • February 16, 2008 7:46am

    If I stunk up the house with fish sauce, I’d get an eviction notice from my husband!

  • Thanh Tu Nguyen
    August 4, 2008 11:08am

    wow, how amazing i find this recipe here, i’m from this dish’s country
    nice entry, david, i love your site and your recipes here

  • Hang
    January 16, 2010 4:18am

    Way late to this party, but I just wanted to say when this is prepared properly, it is absolutely delicious!! My mom used to make these, but the with about 2-inch ribblets. From your picture, the caramel sauce doesn’t look like what my mother made (unfortunately she is no longer with us so I can not inquire for exact details). I do recall her slowly melting white sugar in a pan and adding the ribblets (didn’t recall any veggies), tossing them around to coat and cook them. Vietnamese meals are typically cooked very quickly and eaten while hot, so there should be no wait time to dig into your ribs. :o) When finished, the caramel sauce that coats the ribs is probably between the consistency of maple syrup and honey, with a slightly translucent sheen to it. Like caramel glass. From the close-up picture of the rib you held up, it looks a wee bit on the dark and dry side to me. Maybe it’s all the time it spent in the oven or fridge? Mom cooked everything on the stove and was done within the hour. We ate it with steamed jasmine rice. I remember licking the caramel sauce off my fingers (gotta hold those little rib bones with your fingers!). Yum!

  • February 11, 2010 1:28am

    How to improve upon an already awesome recipe such as this? I’ll share a little technique I learned while working at charlie trotters. Once the caramel hits that point where it’s a beautiful mahogany, (and just before you add the fish sauce) add a handful each of minced ginger, garlic, shallots, lemongrass and chiles. The caramel will bubble up and will release an intensely wonderfully aromatic steam (in contrast to that of the fish sc). Stir and allow to cook for a minute, then add a spoonful of tomato paste, a couple shots espresso, simmer another minute to cook out the tomato paste. Then add some orange juice and proceed with the recipe, by adding the fish sauce and so on, as directed.

    Finally, just before serving, stir in just a few drops of sherry vinegar, and throw some fried shallots and a handful of coarsely chopped cilantro and scallions over top. You will not be sorry!!!

    This recipe can be used to braise everything from ribs, to chicken or quail legs, to pork shoulder and beyond…


  • Kimthuy
    July 20, 2010 12:23pm

    Asian cooks often season their frying oil by cooking ingredients such as chillies, garlic, shallots, and peppercorns in it before they begin frying. It gives an added burst of flavor to the dish and teases the nostrils wondrously. They rarely use fresh vegetable oil for stir-frying, preferring “cooked oil” – oil that has been previously used for deep frying – the flavors that it adds.


Leave a comment