- 270 gm caster sugar
- 80 ml fish sauce (1/3 cup)
- 5 red shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 small red chillies, thinly sliced, or to taste, plus extra to serve (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 kg pork ribs, separated into double rib pieces
- Juice of 2 limes
- 30 ml rice vinegar
- To serve: Vietnamese mint, coriander, bean sprouts and fried shallots (optional)
- To serve: steamed jasmine rice
- 1Preheat oven to 150C. Stir sugar and 60ml water in a large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook, swirling pan so it colours evenly, until dark caramel (4-5 minutes). Carefully add another 60ml water, then fish sauce (be careful, hot caramel will spit) and simmer for another minute to infuse flavours. Add shallot, chilli and garlic, simmer until starting to soften (2-3 minutes), then add ribs and cook, turning occasionally, until glazed all over (4-5 minutes). Transfer to oven and braise, turning occasionally, until ribs are very tender (1-1¼ hours). Remove from oven, stir in lime juice and rice vinegar and serve scattered with herbs, sprouts and chilli.
Note When you're making caramel, stir water and sugar over heat until sugar dissolves, then let mixture boil without stirring but swirling the pan so the caramel cooks and colours evenly, brushing down the sides with a pastry brush to remove sugar crystals.