Caramel flavours and pork are a favourite combination in Vietnam and these caramelised pork spare ribs continue in the tradition. As is signature to Vietnamese fare, the dish is garnished with fresh herbs and chillies, which cut through any richness.






Skill level

Average: 4.8 (2 votes)


  • 1 kg pork spare ribs, cut into 3 cm pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 1 Asian red eschalot, finely grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250 ml (1 cup) young coconut water (see Note)
  • 1 onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced, plus extra, to serve
  • coriander sprigs, small red and green bird’s-eye chillies and steamed rice, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 1 hour

Place ribs, eschalot, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to marinate.

Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add ribs and marinade and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until meat starts to caramelise and sauce evaporates.

Add coconut water, onion and red chilli and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until liquid has almost evaporated. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl, top with coriander sprigs and serve with extra sliced long red chillies, sliced red and green bird’s-eye chillies and rice.


• Young coconut water is sold in cartons and in whole young coconuts at Asian food shops and selected greengrocers and supermarkets.



Photography Ben Dearnley. Food preparation Kirsten Jenkins. Styling Justine Poole.


As seen in Feast magazine, October 2014, Issue 36.