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Vietnamese Caramel Spare Ribs

Author: Jennifer Locklin


  • Marinade:
  • 2 large shallots minced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 4 cups cooked rice for serving


  • Marinade:
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Pour marinade into a gallon-size zip top bag, then place the ribs inside the bag (depending on the size of the ribs, you may have to divide this into two bags).
  • Place bag(s) inside a baking sheet in case of leaks and place in the refrigerator for several hours or, preferably, overnight.

  • Sear on the Grill:
  • Heat the grill to around 400 degrees. Brush grill clean and spray grill cooking spray or lightly oil with a clean vegetable oil-soaked paper towel.
  • Place ribs onto grill and cook uncovered for several minutes on each side (just enough to get a good sear and some charred grill marks). Remove ribs to a clean platter, then place into the crock of a slow cooker set to low.

  • Caramel Sauce:
  • In a medium saute pan, combine 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. Bring to a medium boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often until the mixture is liquified. Now that the mixture is liquid, continue to cook for about 3 additional minutes or until slightly thickened and beginning to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Pour caramel mixture over ribs in the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for about 4 to 6 hours.
  • Right before serving, carefully remove ribs to a serving platter (they will be falling off of the bone, so using a pair of tongs, carefully lift out each rib, keeping them intact as much as possible; set aside. Loosely tent with foil while finishing off the sauce.
  • With a ladle or serving spoon, skim off as much fat as possible that has floated to the top of the sauce and discard fat.
  • Pour remaining sauce into a medium saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, reducing the sauce to a syrup-like consistency. Once consistency is reached, immediately remove from heat and whisk in cold butter to finish the sauce.
  • Pour sauce over the meat on the serving platter and serve immediately with hot cooked rice.


I have recently fallen in love with Botan rice, which is a soft sticky rice that is often also used in paella, risotto, pilaf and sushi. Any rice you like would be great with these delicious ribs.