Tasty Vietnamese Pork Ribs, perfect serves with steamed white rice.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but my blog seems to feature very few Vietnamese recipes, despite the fact that I cook Vietnamese at home every second day or so. So in an attempt to rectify the situation and to bring some more balance to this blog, I hope to feature more Vietnamese recipes which are quick, easy and delicious to make at home.
Thankfully, most Vietnamese home-cooking is, in fact, quick, easy and delicious. One dish which my mother used to make frequently on weeknights was pork ribs braised in young coconut juice with freshly ground black pepper. The pork ribs would be chopped into small lengths which could be handled easily with chopsticks, and the salty and peppery sauce was perfect for drizzling over plain, steamed Jasmine rice. When pork ribs were not available, my mother would simply use sliced pork fillet or pork loin, which would require an even shorter cooking time. It was a cheap and cheerful meal and I loved it.
This is a dish which you are unlikely to find on restaurant menus – it is simple, Vietnamese home-cooking, best eaten in the company of those who share the same appreciation for eating messy ribs and licking the sweet and salty sauce from their fingers.
The recipe below comes from The Food of Vietnam, the latest cookbook by Luke Nguyen. What is interesting about his recipe is that the pork ribs are first marinated for a brief period before being deep-fried to give them a lovely, golden colour and to also start the caramelisation process. Once deep-fried, the pork ribs are then braised in some young coconut juice to tenderise the meat and to add sweetness.
Cooking with young coconut juice is common in Vietnamese cooking; it is often used in place of broth or water for a subtle, sweet flavour. Young coconut juice is readily available in most places, but be sure to buy the unsweetened variety for cooking. Alternatively, coconut water is now readily available in most supermarkets and it works perfectly in this recipe too.
I often double the recipe below for just my husband and I, and team it with a generous serve of steamed greens on the side and plain rice. The lovely savoury sauce is perfect for drizzling over your vegetables and rice. Make sure you have plenty of paper napkins handy.Print
Vietnamese Pork Ribs
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: Serves 2
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: Vietnamese
- 1 shallot or small red onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 300 g (10½ oz) pork spare ribs, cut in short lengths
- vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened young coconut juice or unsweetened coconut water
- 1 red or brown onion, sliced thickly
- coriander (cilantro), to garnish
- Prepare the marinade by mixing together the shallot, half the garlic, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Separate the pork ribs and marinate them in the mixture for at least 20 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan until 180°C (350°F).
- Using chopsticks or tongs, remove the pork ribs from the marinade, shaking off any excess (but keep the marinade), and deep-fry the pork ribs in small batches until golden brown. Skim off any bits of caramelised shallots and garlic (which are not burnt) and save these to add colour to the sauce later.
- In a separate saucepan or wok, bring the coconut juice with the reserved marinade to the boil.
- Add the pork ribs and any caramelised bits, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has reduced.
- There should be enough sauce for the meat to sit in, but they should not be completely submerged.
- Taste for seasoning (you may wish to add some water or more black pepper).
- Add the onion and remaining garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Garnish with coriander and serve with steamed Jasmine rice.
The pork ribs will need to be chopped into short lengths to make them quicker to cook and easier to eat, especially if you are eating them Vietnamese-style with chopsticks. Unless you are handy with a meat cleaver, it is best to ask your butcher to do this for you. For pork baby back ribs, I often just ask the butcher to cut a rack of ribs down the middle. For a rack of larger sized pork spare ribs, ask your butcher to cut them into 2 cm to 4 cm lengths (1 inch to 1.5 inches).
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.
- Serving Size: Serves 2
- Calories: 274
- Sugar: 23.4g
- Sodium: 2183mg
- Fat: 11g
- Carbohydrates: 32.7g
- Fiber: 2.4g
- Protein: 12.1g
- Cholesterol: 38mg