Food Snob Chronicles — Vietnamese-style Pork Ribs

Quickly, name two Vietnamese dishes. Now, read on.

Did you answer Phở?  What was your second answer?  No worries. I won’t tell anyone … especially since you helped me prove my point that Vietnamese cuisine has been unfairly stereotyped here in America.

Just about every culture’s food has been viewed similarly here.  I know people who think that Italian food consists of spaghetti, tomato sauce and meatballs, and others (from an older generation) who view Chinese food simply as chop suey.  And there are a lot of people who think that Phở (rice noodle soup) is Vietnam’s only dish.

True, Phở is as common from Hà Giang to Mũi Cà Mau as McDonald’s is between Altoona and Zionsville. But so too are meats, seafood, vegetables and rice. And sandwiches, or bánh mì (the second answer for those of you who could come up with two).

You see, while Vietnam is not exactly a melting pot of cultures like the U.S., it’s had its share of outside influences through the years. Take bánh mì, for instance. The filling — pork belly, daikon and pickled vegetables — is Vietnamese through and through. But the bread? It’s French. France colonized the country for some time, as did the Mongolians, who brought beef with them.

Did you know?   Perhaps one good thing resulted from U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Ice cream.  Yep, our lasting contribution to the culture there turned out to be sweet and delicious.  But the country’s sweet tooth has caused a different type of war in the 21st century among American ice cream purveyors, who are fighting for the hard-earned Vietnamese Dong. (That’s monetary currency, folks.)

Like any other country, Vietnam has its popular foods by region.  The northern part of the country is not the greatest for agriculture because of the mountains and colder weather. So naturally, the residents there don’t enjoy the regular array of spices, fruits and vegetables as their southern brethren.  Fish and seafood are staples throughout though, considering that no part of the country is too far from a river or ocean.

I doubt there are too many rib joints in the tiny Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam, but there is plenty of lemongrass, sugar and fish sauce — the star ingredients in this simple recipe for these bright succulent pork ribs.

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Vietnamese-style Pork Ribs

Vietnamese-style Pork Ribs — Bright. Succulent. Delicious.

Vietnamese-style Pork Ribs — Bright. Succulent. Delicious.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vietnamese-style Pork Ribs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Vietnamese
  • 3 lbs. - Pork ribs, cut in half length-wise across bones (cutting is optional)
  • 6 TB - Fish sauce
  • 4 - Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 - Lemongrass stalks (white part), minced
  • 1 TB - Sugar
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) - Coconut milk
  • 1 cup - Chicken stock
  • 1 TB - Sambal Oelek (optional)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch - Cilantro
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Fresh (sweet or hot) peppers, sliced
  1. Combine garlic, fish sauce, lemongrass and sugar. Pour over ribs and marinate 2-3 hours in the refrigerator or 30-45 minutes at room temperature.
Pressure Cooker Method
  1. Brown ribs in about 2 TB oil in the pressure cooker. Add coconut milk, chicken stock and Sambal Oelek (if using). Cook on "meat" setting (automatic electric cookers) or at about 13 PSI (manual pressure cookers) for 30 minutes. Allow cooker to release pressure gradually.
  2. Garnish with cilantro, green onions and peppers. Serve with rice.
Slow Cooker Method
  1. In a large skillet, brown ribs in about 2 TB oil. Place in slow cooker, adding coconut milk, chicken stock and Sambal Oelek (if using). Cook on low for about 6 hours.
  2. Garnish with cilantro, green onions and peppers. Serve with rice.



  1. Question. How in the hell do you know that shit?

    p.s. The ribs look great.


    • adamjholland says:

      Good question, Shea. The answer: I looked it up, then confirmed with a couple of Vietnamese friends of mine. Thanks for the kind words. 😉

  2. I have to admit, I panicked and couldn’t even name Pho. :/ The ribs look really good Adam and next time I’m at my favorite Pho place, I’ll have to write down my favorite dish … I know it by the photo on the menu and not the name.

  3. I bought four slabs of spare ribs (on sale) and wanted to cook something different. I came across your recipe and decided to do this, since I have a vietnamese roommate. I’m pretty good in experimenting with new dishes. So I doubled the recipe using one slab. The house smells wonderful with the lemon grass used. Yum-yum. Thank you.

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