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Pork Ribs in Sticky Vietnamese Sauce

In March, while traveling in South-East Asia, Micheal and I took a six-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in Vietnam. Having been underwhelmed by Cambodian food, Vietnam’s flavours left us speechless. In Ho Chi Minh, we took  a cooking class from Chef Vu, a local chef whose restaurant has a cooking school that runs during the day. An early morning rickshaw ride cleared away the cobwebs and woke us up for our early start in Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh’s central bazaar. Here Chef Vu’s assistant talked us through her best practices for picking the finest and freshest prawns, chicken and vegetables, using a real no nonsense approach! Back at the restaurant kitchen, with our newly acquired fresh produce in tow, we cooked a feast of Vietnamese omelet, simmered pork ribs, green melon soup and deep-fried spring rolls. Here is the recipe for simmered pork ribs that is a simplified version of Vietnamese braised ribs.

Ironic moment of the trip: 
Leaving Iraq  to get away from work, it was quite the surprise to discover that the two only other participants in the class happened to work for one of our donors, the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

 If you would like to sign up for a cooking class with Chef Vu, get in touch with him via tripadvisor.

Serves 2

Vietnamese pork ribs

Sweet and salty Vietnamese pork ribs

15 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

45 minTotal Time

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  • 0.5 kg pork ribs, bone-in, cut in 3 cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika oil
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 200 g onion, chopped
  • Spring onion and coriander to serve
  • 1 tbsp. sunflower oil for frying


  1. Marinade pork ribs in spices and set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a deep pan (ideally wok), add ribs and stir fast to prevent it from burning.
  3. When the ribs are golden brown, pour water in the pan to cover the meat. You can also use coconut juice instead of water.
  4. Simmer the meat on low heat for about 20 minutes. By this time, water should change into thick sauce.
  5. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with coriander and spring onions before serving.

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