Caramel Plum Spareribs

After at least an hour of agonizing over dinner, I dragged my heels to my local supermarket and decided on pork spareribs. I debated between Vietnamese caramel ribs and my dad’s plum sauce steamed ribs. That was a no-brainer. Sticky, gooey ribs always wins, but why not have the best of both worlds?

For this recipe, you will need fish sauce, plum sauce, and sugar. I typically use Koon Chun brand plum sauce, which I’ve been able to find it in most Chinese super markets. 


If you love sweet, sticky and tender pork ribs, then you’ll love this recipe. Give it a try!


Caramel Plum Spareribs
Serves 4
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Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
  1. 1 kg or 2.2 pounds pork spareribs, cut into bite-size pieces
  2. 2 Tb granulated sugar
  3. 25 g shallot, minced
  4. 15 g garlic, minced
  5. 2 ts plum sauce
  6. 1 Tb fish sauce (or soy sauce, if allergic)
  7. 1/4 ts dark soy sauce (optional)
  8. 1/4 ts black pepper, fine
  9. 400 ml water
  10. 1/2 green onion, sliced thin (optional)
  11. cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)
  1. In a stainless steel wok, add the sugar and turn on the heat to medium. The sugar will melt and slowly bubble. Watch it closely.
  2. As it begins to turn amber in color, add the pork and toss quickly to coat.
  3. Add the shallot, garlic, plum sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce (optional, for color), black pepper and water. The water should barely cover the ribs.
  4. Turn heat to high and bring to boil.
  5. Cover the wok with a lid and bring down to a steady simmer (low heat).
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes and remove the lid.
  7. Simmer for another 30 minutes, or until a thick sauce is formed.
  8. Serve with green onion and cilantro (optional)
  1. I highly recommend using a wok because liquid evaporates more quickly with a greater exposed surface area. It will take longer to reduce the sauce using a pot, but it will be doable.
  2. If you are not an experienced caramel-maker, I recommend using a stainless steel wok or pot. It will be easier to see when the caramel has formed. Beware, since it can go from caramel to BURNT very quickly.
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