Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot) is deep-fried pork spare ribs simmered in a savory sweet and sour tomato sauce with bell peppers, onions and pineapples. This delicious side dish pair beautifully with steamed rice for a simple yet satisfying meal. They are also great for packed work lunches!

In my grocery store, I usually find only full racks of ribs. If that’s the case for you too, you can ask your butcher to cross cut the ribs so that when you bring it home, you can slice between the bones to get bite-size pieces. You can also use a large meat cleaver and hack up the bones yourself at home. It’s a great way to take out aggression. Trust me.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

To prepare the pork ribs, I clean them thoroughly by parboiling them with a bit of salt. This method removes all the impurities and the foul smell of pork that tend to linger even after cooking. I skip this step once to save time and I really wished I hadn’t. However, to each their own. Skip this step if you think parboiling is a waste of time but be forewarned.

There are two cooking methods in this recipe: deep-frying and stir-frying. The marinated pork ribs get coated in a light dusting of corn starch then deep-fried for a golden brown exterior. Next, the ribs go into a stir-fry to simmer in a sweet and sour tomato sauce with bite-size pieces of bell peppers, yellow onions and pineapples.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

For the tomato sauce, you can use fresh tomatoes cut into small chunks. Simply cook it down into a sauce. You can also use canned tomato sauce. For me, I happily use the cheat version — ketchup. It’s tomato sauce (sort of) and it’s already sweetened. Win-win for the lazy.

For the sour component, some people use tamarind. Others use vinegar. I use lemon juice because I have a very healthy lemon tree in the backyard.

I love adding pineapples to my stir-fry because it’s both sweet and sour. A really good pineapple can elevate this dish. Use a fresh ripe pineapple. I would certainly avoid canned pineapples because they are blah.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs Stir Fry (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Pork Spare Ribs (Suon Xao Chua Ngot)

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

    Pork

  • 1-1/2 lbs pork spare ribs (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning
  • Pinch black pepper (1/8 teaspoon)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced, divided)
  • 1 shallot (minced, divided)
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup corn starch

  • Stir-Fry Sauce

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maggi seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime/lemon juice
  • Pinch black pepper (1/8 teaspoon)

  • Vegetables

  • 3 bell peppers (remove seeds and cut into bite-size piece)
  • 1 small yellow onion (peel and cut into thick wedges)
  • 1/2 lbs fresh pineapple (peel and cut into thick slices)
  • Handful cilantro leaves or green parts of 1 scallion for garnish (optional; thinly slice)

Instructions

  1. Optional by highly recommended: Cleaning/parcooking the pork bones will remove all the impurities and foul-smell of pork. Add bones and 1 teaspoon salt to small stock pot and fill with water to cover. Bring the pot to a rolling boil on the stove (uncovered). Once it comes to a rolling boil and foam/impurities float to the top, immediately turn off heat. Place a colander in the sink and pour content of pot into the colander, discarding the dirty water. Rinse bones under cold running water and drain dry.
  2. To the parboiled bones, marinate with remaining salt (1/2 teaspoon), sugar, Maggi seasoning, black pepper, 1/2 of garlic and 1/2 of shallot for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Make the stiry-fry sauce: In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, Maggi seasoning, oyster sauce, water, lemon/lime juiice and black pepper. Set aside.
  4. To a large wok or skillet, heat vegetable oil to 350°F. Toss the spare ribs in corn starch and dust off excess. Deep fry the ribs until golden brown.
  5. Remove all the oil from the wok, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Heat the wok on medium-high and saute shallot and garlic until fragrant (15-30 seconds). Add bells peppers, yellow onion and pineapple. Toss and cook vegetables for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add deep-fried ribs and the stir-fry sauce. Toss and cook 4-6 more miunutes until sauce thickens. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with cilantro or green onions.
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