It wasn’t too long ago that I raved about pork, naming some of my favourite places in town to eat delicious pork dishes. In addition to ordering pork in restaurants, I also like cooking it. When I see some delicious slabs of the “other white meat” in the market or at the butchers, I find it very difficult to resist buying as much as possible. Of course, like most men, I tend to overdo things. I often buy way too much to cook or eat at one sitting, a predicament that S never appreciates. This is particularly bad when I buy cuts that can’t keep, like loin. If, however, I’ve actually used my noggin for once and bought some braising/stewing cuts, then the leftovers can always be frozen or chilled and eaten at a later date.

Some dishes, in fact, taste better the day after they’re made. It’s simply amazing what sitting in the fridge overnight can do for certain braised foods. Flavours become richer and meats, when reheated, become beautifully tender. One such recipe, that I have just tried, comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Molly Stevens’ All About Braising. I’ve previously prepared some of Ms Stevens other pig recipes, like her pork loin braised in milk, with consistently outstanding results. So, I was very excited to both make and taste her pork ribs braised in a Vietnamese caramel sauce.

This dish is really easy to make. The only difficult thing is not eating it right away. Ms Stevens recommends refrigerating it for between 1 to 3 days before digging in. My patience only lasted a day. I couldn’t help myself; I had to wolf these down for lunch the day after cooking them.

The braising liquid, made by combining caramel with fish sauce, shallots and water, is delicious. It has this lovely sweet and savory umaminess that is highly addictive. It both colours and flavours the pork well. When done properly, the pork is tender enough to pull (or bite) off the bones without any difficulty. When I ate my ribs, I served them with some fried rice, one of the quickest things in the world to make (so long as you have some pre-cooked rice in the fridge). The two dishes worked really well and made for a very satisfying lunch. And while I had actually made quite a large portion of ribs, with the intention of saving some leftovers for later, when S and I had finished our meal, we realized that we’d devoured every last bit of pork.

Pork Riblets Braised in Vietnamese Caramel Sauce
from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a starter

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup sliced shallots
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 slab baby back ribs (1.75 to 2 lbs)
sawed lengthwise in half

Spread the sugar in the bottom of a wide heavy-based skillet. Pour over 1/4 cup of the water and the lemon juice. Let it sit for a minute. Then heat over medium heat until the sugar begins to liquefy. Reduce the heat the medium low and let the caramel boil until it turns red.

Remove it from the heat and slowly pour 1/4 cup water and the fish sauce into the caramel. Return to the heat and stir. Let boil for a few minutes, until the sauce is smooth and a bit thick. Add the shallots and pepper and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Separate the pork ribs into individual riblets by cutting down between the bones. Add them to the caramel sauce, stir to coat, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover and braise, stirring every 15 minutes with tongs, for 90 minutes. Don’t let the caramel sauce boil; if the heat is too high then use a diffuser. The ribs are done when they have become tender enough to pull easily away from the bone and are a deep mahogany colour. At this point, you can serve them or store them. If you want to store them, let them cool and then store in the fridge for 1 to 3 days. To reheat, pop them in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!


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27 November 2006


Molly Stevens is the best! Oh, and also, pork is the best! I haven’t tried this recipe but now I will be doing that soon. Wow, fish sauce and caramel.

A few threads ago, there was a growing call for a section on places in Sing to buy quality ingredients (and now equipment after your MB spoon story). Come on S – can you twist CH’s arm on this or are you reluctant to share your black book?

Living and cooking here in Sing, I now fully understand why a chef as talented & successful as Justin Quek would decamp to open a restaurant in Taiwan. Not being close to produce or having seasonal changes really takes the inspiration out of cooking.

Ahhh the pleasures of a vibrant market where regional produce not seen elsewhere is proudly displayed.

Hi Kat

The wheels have been set in motion. Please be patient. We have to work out the tech side of such a listing since all this coding business is still pretty baffling to us and I have a whopping 100,000 words to pull out of a hat for school 🙂 I would love for it to be something people can contribute to so we can keep it really up-to-date. So, rest assured that it’ll eventually be done. Meanwhile, if you’re searching for something specific, I’d be happy to send you some leads.

Hi Anon

Loin would end up really dry, I feel. Pork belly would be fabulous 🙂 Or you could ask your butcher for a stewing cut like pork neck.

I’ve actually tried a similar sauce with flattened pork loins. Instead of completely cooking the pork though, I merely coated the pork with the caramel sauce, grilled it and made pork sandwiches.

I’ll definitely have to give this rib recipe a try though. It looks delish!


This looks delicious, thank you! I’ll definintely be making this recipe today or tomorrow, as I have the ribs. But I don’t have time to shop, do you think onions might work instead of shallots?

I tried the riblets recipe but used onions instead of shallots and our local Philippine lime instead of lemon and I must say those riblets never made it past the evening. I will make another batch and keep them the four days you recommend just to see how much better they taste.

I made these last night and they were incredible! Thank you so much for posting this recipe and thanks for your blog – I look forward to reading it every week.

Brooklynmasala: I’m so glad this worked for you. Thanks for reading. You should really try the pork neck confit that is featured this week. It is yummy!

Hi, I know that it’s been more than a year since you posted this recipe, but I just ran across it on the internet (great site!) I have a question: after following the stovetop directions and refrigerating it for a few days, would it be ok to reheat it on the grill instead of in the stove? If so, do you have any tips? Thank you so much!

Hi Vietnamesemom, my only concern would be that the ribs may get stringy and dried out in the grill. Perhaps reheat on the stove and finish on the grill? We haven’t tried this method ourselves. If you do, do let us know how it turns out for you.

Hi ChubbyHubby and S, I want to thank you for this incredible blog and recipes as well as the incredible photographs. I just made this tonight and boy, i’m already salivating at the sheer redness of the ribs! (its meant for a lunch – 3 days later!).

It is also an incredible coincidence that my wife and I are very much similar to both of you. We are a young couple, now in Germany, and we both love cooking very much! and me bring a guy is overly passionate about photography!!! even though i do more of fashion photography and portraitures.

The only thing that differs is that we do not have a web blog with all the yummy food, and we do not have cookbooks. (our references are usually recipes from our very traditional parents).

In anycase, we bought the much meatier cuts of the ribs and it was taking forever to turn red, so here’s a slight modification:- after 90minutes, if the ribs are still not red and there’s still plenty liquid, remove the ribs to a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, turn up the heat to medium-high of the skillet and let the sauce boil moderately until the sauce thickens and he bubbles take on a stretchy kinda look. Place the ribs back into the skillet and coat each piece. Reduce heat to low, turn and coat each piece until it achieves the deep mahogany. (I wish i could post up some pictures here to show this dish and others that we’ve cooked eg. eisbein, citrone salt crusted rainbow trout with herb stuffings, etc.)


I want to try it but would be afraid of it burning in such a thick sauce. Maybe better to bake covered for an hour, then simmer in the sauce.

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