Caramelized pork spare ribs (thịt kho sườn) is by far my favorite Vietnamese dish, especially when my Mom made it!  I can eat it for days.  Love it, and love HER (miss you, Mommy).

I was lucky enough to learn how to make this dish from the master chef herself, and though I may have a biased palette, I must say that her version was the best!  Would that make mine second best?  I’ll take it!

I was surprised to learn how easy it is to make this dish too.

Here’s what you’ll need:
2 lbs of pork spare ribs
2 tbs of fish sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs of sugar
3 green onion stalks
fresh cracked pepper

CaramelizedPork SpareRibs


Ask your butcher you cut the ribs into 1.5 to 2 inch strips across the bones.  Most Asian markets will know how to cut it if you tell them you’re going to make thịt kho sườn.

PorkSpare Ribs

1)  Wash the ribs, and pat them dry.  Cut the strips into smaller pieces (cut between each bone), and remove excess fat.

PorkSpareRibsCut Pork Spare Ribs Cut

2)  Over high heat, add 1 tbs of sugar to a pan.  Let it melt and caramelize, but don’t let it turn into burnt sugar candy!  This should take less than a minute.

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Spare Ribs Vietnamese Pork Spare Ribs Caramelized Pork Spare Ribs.

3)  Gently add the meat to the pan, and stir it around to coat with sugar (1-2 minutes).  The sugar is supposed to sweeten and brown the pork.  This process is called thắng màu.

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Spare Ribs

4)  After the meat soaks up the sugar, add 2 tbs of fish sauce.  This step could get a little smelly, so turn on the vent, and/or open your windows.  Stir the meat around again so it soaks up the fish sauce (about 2 minutes).


5)  Add water so that it covers the meat (almost filling to the top of the pan).  Bring it to a boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then, add a few more drops of fish sauce (about 4-5 drops).

6)  Now turn the heat down to medium low.  Add your two cloves of garlic, and let everything simmer until the water reduces almost to the bottom of the pan.  This will make a great sauce for your rice, so don’t let the liquid completely dry out.

7)  Top with diced green onions and cracked pepper.

Pork SpareRibs

Caramelized Pork Spare Ribs

Enjoy with white rice and greens, and drizzle some of that delicious sauce over it.  I happened to have bock choy, so I steamed some, but it really goes best with sliced cucumbers.  Doesn’t that look tasty?


I love you, Mommy.

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Showing 7 comments
  • Easy

    Wow that sounds easy.

    • Impressed

      I made this for family that was visiting and they were so impressed with my culinary skills. Thanks Duo for making me look good.

      • the how to duo

        That’s great to hear! Glad you and your family enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Super Soft

    I made this on the weekend and the meat turned out super soft and full of flavor.

  • Again

    Having this again.

    • the how to duo

      Yay! If you like this, you’ll love caramelized braised pork & eggs! We’ll post the recipe post soon!

  • Special requests

    All I ever hear is “can you make those ribs again”.

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