With tender, fall-of-the-bone braised pork ribs in a deliciously sweet and sticky caramel sauce, this comforting and authentic Vietnamese braised caramel pork ribs recipe is sure to be a family favorite – both kids and adults love it!

Vietnamese Comfort Food

This caramelized pork ribs recipe is one of the ultimate comfort dishes in Vietnamese cuisine. Sườn Ram Mặn is to us Vietnamese people what spaghetti is to Italians or what Sauerbraten is for Germans. It’s a warming, comforting dish that brings back memories of family gatherings and of growing up in a Vietnamese household.

The Best Vietnamese Food for the Family

I love serving this dish to my family. It’s a great hit with both adults and children – my 5-year old is a huge fan. This recipe is definitely a wonderful choice for your next family dinner because it’s a very satisfying and impressive dish that isn’t too hard to make.

It also makes a great main dish for dinner with friends – everyone who tries it falls in love with it! Communal eating is common in Vietnam and I think sharing food with loved ones greatly enhances the eating experience, especially for comforting Vietnamese dishes like this one.

Vietnamese Coconut and Caramel Sauce

The braising liquid I use for this flavorful pork ribs recipe is very similar to the one I use in my Thịt Kho recipe. The most important elements for this sauce are the coconut water and the authentic Vietnamese caramel sauce.

Unlike the caramel sauce used for desserts, Vietnamese caramel sauce or Nước Màu is cooked until it becomes a deep copper color. This imparts a complex nuttiness and smoky flavor that makes the sauce ideal for savory applications instead of sweet.

I also prefer to use coconut water for my recipe instead of the coconut soda you see in a lot of Vietnamese caramelized pork recipes. Coconut water is widely available and I find it gives a more refreshing flavor and sweetness than coconut soda, which often has artificial preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.

Vietnamese Clay Pot Cooking

For this recipe, I use a clay pot to make the caramel sauce and to braise the pork. I love using a clay pot for braises because it makes the meat very tender and adds a slightly roasted finish. A clay pot in Vietnamese cooking is called Tộ and there are many dishes similar to my caramelized pork ribs that are best cooked in one. Some examples are Cá Kho Tộ, or Caramelized Braised Catfish, and Vietnamese Caramel Chicken.

I highly recommend using a clay pot for this recipe as it’s a great investment if you love to make warm and comforting braises for yourself, your friends, or your family. But if you don’t have one, a Dutch oven can also yield similar results. Happy cooking!

Vietnamese Braised Short Ribs | Cách Làm Sườn Ram Mặn

Course Breakfast, Main Course


For blanching Pork Spare Riblets:
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Vinegar
For Marinate:
  • 2 lbs Pork Spare Riblets
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 piece Shallot
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Fish Sauce
For Caramel Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1.5 cups Coconut Water approx. 330 ml
Optional ingredients for garnish (but highly recommended):
  • Green Onions
  • Thai Chili Peppers


  • Cut the pork riblets into bite size.  Bring small pot of water to boiling.  Add some salt and vinegar to help remove any impurities from the pork.  Once water is boiling, add pork riblets and blanched for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Drain blanched pork riblets and wash thoroughly under running water.
  • Add all ingredients to the pork riblets and mix.  Make sure each pork riblet is coated with a little bit of all the ingredients. Let meat marinate for at least 1 hour but it is most flavorful when you let it marinate overnight.
  • Add 2 tbsp of sugar to your pot – I am using a beautiful clay pot.
  • Start caramelizing the sugar over medium heat. Make sure to stir sugar since it can burn very fast and easily.
  • Once sugar is caramelized, add the pork riblets with all of the marinate sauce.  Coat each piece of meat with the beautiful caramel sauce to give it taste and a beautiful color.
  • Now add about 1 cup of coconut water. Traditionally, Vietnamese people use a coconut soda but I find that the coconut soda has too much artificial ingredients for me. Coconut water is widely available nowadays and it is the perfect natural tenderizer and sweetener.
  • Bring your pork to a boil. Then turn the heat to low, cover with lid and simmer it for 30 minutes.
  • Once in a while stir the pork to make sure it is all evenly cooked and get a nice even caramelized color all around.
  • After 30 minutes, remove lid and continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes. While pork is cooking without lid, the liquid will become a beautiful sauce.
  • Garnish with green onion and hot Thai chili peppers. Ready to serve!


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