Vietnamese Ribs

Thank David Lebovitz for this most wonderful recipe.

Vietnamese Ribs


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (save the zest and the other half for the black rice)
  • ⅓ cup gluten-free fish sauce
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 very large yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced lengthways
  • 1 slab of pork baby back ribs or 2 pounds cut into individual ribs
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and shredded
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4 Thai chilies, washed, stems removed and sliced (be careful. Wear gloves for safety.)
  • 1-inch piece of carrot, peeled and diced


  • Turn oven on to 300ºF.
  • Spread sugar in bottom of wide heavy-based skillet.
  • Pour over ¼ cup of water and lemon juice.
  • Let it sit for minute.
  • Then heat over medium heat until sugar begins to liquefy.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and let caramel boil until it turns medium-dark brown.
  • Remove it from heat and slowly and carefully (because this will steam and you could burn yourself) pour ¾ cup water and fish sauce into caramel.
  • Return to heat and stir.
  • Let boil for a few minutes, until sauce is smooth.
  • Add onions and remove from the heat.
  • Add ribs to caramel sauce, stir to coat, and bring to simmer over low heat.
  • Cover and place into oven.
  • Braise, turning the ribs every 30 minutes with tongs, for 2 hours.
  • For last half hour add, ginger, garlic, Thai chilies, and diced carrot.
  • Return ribs to oven.
  • Ribs are done when they have become tender enough to pull easily away from bone and are a medium-deep mahogany color.
  • Remove pan from oven.
  • Place ribs on plate then heat sauce to a boil.
  • Reduce sauce down by half.

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