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Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs

Vietnamese caramelized Beef Ribs

This post will feature a dish I created yesterday Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs. I am excited to write this post and share my ongoing adventure with you as there are some twists to this tale I will reveal as the story unfolds.

The dish was forwarded to me from a good friend Toan Thai who (as it just so happens) is an amazing food photographer. He turned me on to a great site (Helen Recipes) featuring Vietnamese recipes. The focus of Toan’s message to me was on a particular a recipe Suon Ram Man which featured caramelized pork ribs. My version substituted beef ribs for the pork ribs which is a story in itself (more on that later).

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Dinner is served!

So, as I continue to educate myself on Food Blogging part of this is learning to take better food photographs. So far I think I do a pretty good job with my iPhone but there is a whole world out there with elevated food photographs I want to participate in. It was time for me to finally use that DSLR that has been sitting in closet since last Christmas!

I have found very good classes on food photography online and I started taking them yesterday. The focus was on the basics of a DSLR aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These may seem like common terms to many of you but to me they were new terms with familiar concepts. This post features most of the pictures I took yesterday with my Canon Rebel XSi. Some of the pictures are from my iPhone and my hope is you will be able to tell the difference!

Disclaimer: I am just getting started and this is part of the journey I am sharing with all of you. So, remember this is new to me and I haven’t taken the courses on lighting, composition, and photo editing. So the photos here are just focusing on the DSLR techniques I picked up yesterday.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Learning to use DSLR

OK… now back to the recipe and the way in which this recipe featuring “pork ribs” suddenly featured “beef ribs”.

I started the day with a message from my friend Toan sharing a video recipe for Caramelized pork spare ribs that looked so flippin good I decided to make it that evening. In addition, I wanted to convert the recipe so I could cook it on the Big Green Egg. I shared this with my Sous Chef Debbie and we created the shopping list needed for this recipe. From there I started to take the food photography lessons while she prepared to go to the grocery store. Somewhere in that transition she asked me “…you want beef ribs right?” and as I was distracted I said “yes we want beef ribs”. At least that is how she remembers this part of the story… 🙂

As the day progressed and I got comfortable with the photography lessons I took online I decided to make the recipe indoors to control the two variables I was most concerned about, lighting and caramelizing the sugar. So here you go… my take on Suon Ram Man or Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs!

First thing was to chop the ribs in to little riblets. I did this by asking the butcher to do it for me 🙂

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Chop the ribs

Next I put ribs in lightly salted water and let them soak for 15 minutes to get rid of any impurities.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Ribs soaking in water

While the ribs were soaking I prepared the rest of the mise en place which included minced garlic, chopped green onions, seasoning, fish sauce, sugar, coconut water, and garlic chili sauce.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Mise en place

After the ingredients were prepped and the ribs were soaked. I took the ribs out of the salted water and washed the ribs thoroughly with cold water. From there I added the white parts of the onion, minced garlic, and seasoning. Mixed them well and let sit 15 minutes to marinate.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Marinate the ribs

I placed a large pot on the stove and set it to medium heat. Next I added the oil and evenly spread the sugar so it was mixed well with the oil in the bottom of the pot.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Sugar in the pot

I waited for the sugar to melt and caramelize. You can see it turning brown in the pan which is the key piece to look for. This could easily burn so once you see the sugar caramelize pull off the heat.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Caramelized sugar

Once you have taken the pot off the heat it is time to mix in the marinated ribs. Stir the ribs to coat evenly in the caramelized sugar. This next picture features the lovely Debbie and her hand…

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Coating the ribs with the caramelized sugar

Once the ribs are evenly browned and coated in the caramelized sugar return the pot to the stove and turn to medium heat. Next add the coconut water and fish sauce bringing the mixture to a boil.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Add coconut water and bring to boil

Now you want to lower heat and cover for 25 minutes to help the ribs get tender.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Cover and let sit 25 minutes

Here is a behind the scenes look at setting up the above shot.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Food photography in action!

Now you want to remove the lid, add garlic chili sauce, stir, and cook another 25 minutes until sauce reduces and thickens.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Ribs are just about done!

Now pull the pot off the stove when the sauce is thick and gooey. Stir the ribs so they are covered in the sauce toss on the chopped green onion tops and serve.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Tossed and ready to serve

We picked one of our favorite Zinfandels to pair with this dinner Seghesio! This is a rich and beautiful red wine that has hints of blackberry and mint. Went so well with the sweet, sticky, and spicy Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs.

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Paired with a nice Zinfandel

Now the evening would not be complete without a nice dinner table set for the two of us. I hope you enjoy cooking this recipe as much as I did!

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs
Table set for two!
Vietnamese caramelized Beef Ribs

Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs

Helen Le
I major modification on the recipe for Suon Ram Man. I used 2.5 Lbs. of beef ribs and adjusted the ingredients accordingly.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Beef
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 4


  • 1 Lbs. beef ribs
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp white part of spring onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp seasoning powder eg. Knorr - this is optional
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water or coconut water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbs garlic chili sauce


  • Chop ribs in to riblets
  • Put ribs in lightly salted water for 15 minutes
  • Wash the ribs thoroughly
  • Add onion, garlic, and seasoning. Mix well and let sit 15 minutes.
  • Large pot over medium heat on the stove.
  • Add oil and evenly spread the sugar. Wait for sugar to melt and caramelize.
  • Take off heat and mix in the ribs stirring to coat the ribs in caramelized sugar.
  • Place back on heat and stir until browned.
  • Add water and fish sauce. Bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat and cover for 25 minutes.
  • Remove lid, add garlic chili sauce, stir, and cook another 25 minutes until sauce reduces and thickens.
  • Serve and toss chopped green onion tops
Tried this recipe?Mention @the_bbq_buddha or tag #the_bbq_buddha!


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4 comments on “Caramelized Vietnamese Beef Ribs

  1. Whoa! You da man – I am impressed with camera work and your sidekick did a good job also. Am looking forward to trying them. What was your opinion on the finished product ?

  2. So, a few adjustments. I didn’t know how much oil you used as quantity not given. I guessed. I doubled the recipe, also. As it is, three changes … I upped the fish sauce slightly, added an equal amount of soy sauce. I did the first kid on summer, but realized this would not be long enough to really make tender ribs … so, I stirred them around and repeated this step. Even with kid on, the sauce cooks down. Then, stirred it all around again and did 15 more minutes, still with lid. As I was doing the veggie side I let it simmer at lowest possible flame. Melt in your mouth tender. I have a nice pic, but unable to post.

    1. Jerry,

      Thanks for posting. Try adding a picture now! This was one fo the first recipes I posted when I started blogging. You have reminded me that I’d like to go back and do it again. This time I will try your modifications.