Vietnamese-style Tamarind Pork Ribs (Sườn sốt me)

Tamarind is a common and readily available in Vietnam. It is not only used to eat as a fruit with mouth-watering sweet and tangy taste, but also an excellent ingredient to bring a unique sour flavor to various Vietnamese dishes. Whether you’re preparing hotpot, soup, or stir-fried dishes, tamarind can set the dish apart. Here’s my favorite recipe with tamarind: Vietnamese-style tamarind pork ribs, made from ribs marinated and simmered in tamarind sauce.

tamarind pork rib

Tamarind and tamarind paste

Firstly, let’s get to know what is tamarind and tamarind paste. Tamarind is a tropical fruit that comes from the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica). It is widely used in various cuisines around the world, particularly in Southeast Asian, Indian, and African cooking. Tamarind has a unique sweet and sour flavor, and it is often used to add tartness and depth to dishes.

However, to make it truly become an ingredient in your kitchen, tamarind paste becomes a perfect solution. There are some reasons. The fruit itself is in the form of a pod, with a hard, brown shell that surrounds a pulp that takes time to extract the pulp. The pulp is sticky and tangy, so you will just need 2-3 tamarinds for a dish. Therefore, to preserve tamarind in a longer period, people made the paste from its pulp. Tamarind paste can sit in the fridge for 3-6 months or even longer.

With tamarind paste as a key ingredient for Tamarind Pork Ribs in Vietnamese style, let’s discover the ingredient list below.

Ingredients for Tamarind Pork Ribs in Vietnamese Style

The ingredients are simple: Pork ribs, tamarind paste, some other aromatics like shallots, pepper, and of course, salt and sugar. This list is minimized so that everybody, even not familiar with fish sauce and MSG, can enjoy. Grasp these ingredients for making Vietnamese-style Tamarind Pork Ribs:

  • 500 grams of pork ribs. Opt for fresh and soft pork ribs. Baby pork ribs are also a great choice.
  • 1 tbsp of tamarind paste: You can find tamarind paste or concentrate in most Asian stores.
  • 2 tbsp of sugar: Sugar plays an important role here because tamarind paste is really tangy.
  • 2 tbsp of water: to thin the tamarind paste
  • ½ tsp of ground pepper
  • 4-5 slices of shallots
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of chili sauce (optional). Chilli sauce brings a spicy taste as well as glaze the final sauce. You can replace it with fresh chilli, or skip it if you are not a fan of spicy foods.

Cooking Instructions

Now that we have our ingredients, let’s dive into how to cook delicious tamarind pork ribs:

  • Preparation: Similar to other recipes with pork ribs such as pork rib porridge, we should process the ribs first to remove their strong smell. Wash the pork ribs under cool water to remove any residues and a part of the smell. Then, stew the ribs in at least 20 minutes or until tender. You can take advantage of instant pot or pressure cooker to shorten the cooking time. For me, with pressure cooker, it took me only 15 minutes to have tender ribs ready for next steps and also saved time for simmer with tamarind mixture.
Tamarind pork ribs
  • Marinating the ribs: Begin by marinating cooked pork ribs with a mixture of tamarind paste, water, sugar, pepper, salt, sliced shallots, and optional chili sauce. Allow the ribs to soak up these flavors for at least 15 minutes, ideally 1 hour.
Tamarind pork ribs
  • Simmering: Heat some oil in a pan or wok. Add the marinated pork ribs and sear them until they turn golden brown and slightly caramelized. Test the ribs if they are tender enough for your preference. It can take you from 15 minutes (with the tenderly cooked ribs) or 40 minutes if the ribs have just boiled before starting simmering process.

As the ribs simmer, the sauce will reduce and thicken, creating a rich, tangy coating for the meat. Keep a close eye to prevent burning and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Tamarind pork ribs
  • Serving: Once the pork ribs are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking, remove them from the heat. Serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs if possible for an extra burst of flavor.

These simple steps allow you to transform the basic ingredients into a mouthwatering dish. The slow cooking process ensures that the flavors meld together, resulting in a delightful combination of sweet, sour, and savory notes.

What to eat with Tamarind Pork Ribs

For Vietnamese, we eat steamed rice with everything; so, there is not an exception for tamarind pork ribs. Besides, fresh cucumber slices, lettuce or pickled vegetables are serve along to balance the taste.

You can also try eating this dish with Vietnamese bánh mì (baguette) and French baguette, it matches well. Tamarind sauce is a perfect dipping sauce for bread. I was inspired by another dish, blood cockle in tamarind sauce – a very popular seafood dish in Vietnam. Many people order banh mi along with it, so I tried it at home with my tamarind pork ribs. The same taste!

tamarind pork rib

Storing and Reheating

What if you can’t consume all the ribs in a single meal? Like any other dishes, storing it in the fridge is the best method to save for later. Besides, you can even freeze it.

  • Refrigeration: Allow them to cool to room temperature. Then, transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. Consume the leftovers within 2 to 3 days to ensure freshness and safety.
  • Freezing: Tamarind pork ribs can be frozen for longer-term storage. Place the cooled ribs in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the container with the date. Frozen ribs can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: To reheat refrigerated or frozen dish, gently warm them in a microwave, oven, or stovetop. If they were frozen, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
tamarind pork rib

Vietnamese-style Tamarind Pork Ribs

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 46 minutes

Here’s my favorite recipe with tamarind: Vietnamese-style tamarind pork ribs, made from ribs marinated and simmered in tamarind sauce.

Ingredients

Instructions

Step 1. Preparation

  • Before doing anything, wash the pork ribs under cool water to remove any residues and a part of the smell. Then, stew the ribs in at least 20 minutes or until tender (40 minutes). You can take advantage of instant pot or pressure cooker to shorten the cooking time to 15 minutes. Tamarind Pork Ribs

Step 2. Marinating the ribs

  • Begin by marinating cooked pork ribs with a mixture of tamarind paste, water, sugar, pepper, salt, sliced shallots, and optional chili sauce. Allow the ribs to soak up these flavors for at least 15 minutes, ideally 1 hour.Tamarind Pork Ribs

Step 3. Simmering

  • Heat some oil in a pan or wok. Add the marinated pork ribs and sear them until they turn golden brown and slightly caramelized. Test the ribs if they are tender enough for your preference. It can take you from 15 minutes (with the tenderly cooked ribs) or 40 minutes if the ribs have just boiled before starting simmering process.
  • As the ribs simmer, the sauce will reduce and thicken, creating a rich, tangy coating for the meat. Keep a close eye to prevent burning and adjust the seasoning if needed.Tamarind Pork Ribs

Step 4. Serving

  • Once the pork ribs are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking, remove them from the heat. Serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs if possible for an extra burst of flavor.tamarind pork rib
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415

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