Food made with love in a Vietnamese mom's kitchen.

Caramelized Pork Spareribs and Shrimp (Sườn Tôm Ram)

Caramelized Pork Spareribs and Shrimp (Sườn Tôm Ram)

Caramelized pork spareribs and shrimp is a great dish to be eaten with rice.  The saltiness and sweetness of the dish are balanced with the blandness of rice.  It’s a simple dish to make and is also a great accompaniment to soups.

My mom used to make this dish along with a big bowl of brothy soups.  She used to take care of my ten cousins, in addition to the three of us.  Can you imagine cooking for that many people and having dinner together? We’d gather around the table and chopsticks would be flying to get to the spareribs and shrimp.  Then, we’d ladle some soup into our rice bowl and slurp.  Good times, good times.

If you go to an Asian market, you should be able to find the spareribs already cut into one-inch strips. Big chain supermarkets do not have pre-cut spareribs.  At least, not where I live.  You could ask the butcher to cut the ribs for you.  Just ask them to cut across the bones into about one-inch strips.  All you have to do when you get it home is to cut them between the bones to separate them.

The shrimp is optional.  But, hey, why not?  It just adds a different texture and taste to the dish.  And who doesn’t like shrimp?  Oh, wait – my husband.  More for me!

Caramelized pork spare ribs and shrimp

Caramelized Pork Spareribs and Shrimp (Sườn Tôm Ram)

Easy pork spareribs and shrimp recipe.  Great with rice.


Marinade for spareribs:

  • 1 lb pork spareribs
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • 1 shallot - minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mushroom seasoning (or pinch of MSG)

Other ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 6-8 oz Coco coconut soda
  • 1/2-1 lb shrimp - deveined with shell on
  • 1 green onion, diagonally sliced garnish


Cleaning and marinating spareribs:

  1. After cutting the spareribs into individual pieces, soak them in a bath of salt water (1 Tbsp salt with enough water to cover them).  Soak for 15-20 minutes.  This should help reduce the porky smell.

  2. After 15-20 minutes, dump the salt water and rinse the ribs under cold water.

  3. In a large bowl, marinate the spareribs with garlic, shallot, salt, ground black pepper, sugar, and mushroom seasoning.  Let marinate for 1/2 hour.

    marinaded pork spare ribs

Cooking instructions:

  1. In a large pan, add 3 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and turn on the burner to medium heat.  DO NOT STIR.  Just let it sit until it starts to turn color.

    sugar and vegetable oil
  2. Let the sugar caramelize, but do not let it burn.  Once the color is golden brown, add the marinated spareribs to the pan.

    sugar beginning to caramelize
  3. Stir the spareribs around so they're coated with the caramel sauce.

    stir in spare ribs
  4. Then add the fish sauce and coconut soda and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.

    spare ribs braising
  5. Put a lid on the pan and let cook for 20-30 minutes.  This is to tenderize the ribs.

  6. Remove the lid and let it cook down for another 20 minutes.  The sauce will thicken.  If you want more sauce, add more soda and adjust seasoning.

  7. Add the shrimp and mix with the sauce.  Let the shrimp cook until done.

  8. You can add the green onions and let it cook if you don't like raw green onions.  Or, you could sprinkle them over the dish once you've plated.







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