Sweet Sour Pork Ribs Suon Xao Chua Ngot

sweet sour spareribs
Vietnamese sweet and sour pork spareribs (suon xao chua ngot) is dish I always looked forward to eating because it’s so finger licking good with the tartness of the tomatoes and just the right amount of sweetness contrasting the succulent pork ribs.  Another reason was that extra pork ribs would also wind up in some sort of soup to complement the meal. While not evident in all of our posts since we feature one item at a time,  most Vietnamese family meals consists of a protein dish, a vegetable dish which could be pickled, along with jasmine rice and eaten family style–everyone had to sit at the table to enjoy the meal.   

sweet sour spareribs

The pork spare ribs would form the base for the a pickled mustard green and dill soup, a delicious classic to complement the meal.

Suon Xao Chua Ngot Sweet and Sour Pork Spareribs
Printable Recipe

  • 1lb pork spare ribs bone in, cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ts fish sauce
  • 2 ts sugar
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced into small cubes
  • cornstarch mix: 1 ts cornstarch 2 tbs water, stir into a slurry 
  • 1 ts white vinegar
  • 1 ts sugar
  • green onions, chopped
  • thai chili, chopped (optional)
  • cooking oil
  • water

Briefly marinade the spareribs with fish sauce, sugar, and garlic–a few minutes will do. In a large saute pan or wok on medium high, heat about 2 tbs of cooking oil and add the shallots. When fragrant, add the spare ribs and sear until edges are golden brown. Then add enough water to just cover the spareribs and cover lid and reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 25-30 minutes.  This will tenderize the ribs–the longer you simmer, the more tender. We like a bit of chewiness so we can gnaw it off the bone.. 🙂

The water should now be slightly reduced. Add the diced tomatoes and continue to simmer until tomatoes breakdown and thicken. Now add the cornstarch slurry and mix well to thicken the sauce even more. Finally, season the sauce with a pinch of salt or fish sauce and by adding equal parts 1 ts vinegar and sugar, add more if necessary, adjusting to taste–should be, well sweet and sour. Add chop green onions and optional thai chili. Remove and serve with jasmine rice.

sweet sour spare ribs
This Vietnamese pork spare ribs dish combines the sour, sweet, spicy and savory flavors we love. We enjoyed this with home made pickled mustard greens along with the pickled mustard green and dill soup–both recipes we’ll post later. A truly finger licking and satisfying Vietnamese meal! 

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37 Responses to “Sweet Sour Pork Ribs Suon Xao Chua Ngot”

  1. 1

    Bonnibella — May 19, 2010 @ 7:02 am

    You guys reminded me that I haven't had this dish in a long time. Wish I could attend your cooking party but will definitely participate in this month's delicious vietnam.

  2. 2

    Cocina Savant — May 19, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    this looks absolutely delicious. i hope you'll post on the vegetable dish or soup pictured in the second photo, both look absolutely incredible!

  3. 3

    Cheryl — May 19, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

    Oh wow, that looks so delicious. It also looks easy enough for me to give it a try. Thanks for posting.

  4. 4

    Connie — May 19, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

    The entire meal looks so amazing, especially that last picture with everything combined (Actually I'm kind of annoyed that I can't just pick up that bowl off the screen to eat it!) Can't wait to read the other recipes!

    By the way, I tried out your pork-filled puff pastries a few weeks back, the banh pate so…I ate them all. SO good.

  5. 5

    Veeda — May 19, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

    This look so amazing. I love those sweet and sour pork ribs. Also, I think every asian household owns those blue and white dishes. I do too!

  6. 6

    Ravenous Couple — May 19, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    Bonnibella: great! can't wait to see what you come up with!

    Cocina Savant: we'll have the pickled mustard green and soup recipes posted up as soon as possible..keep on reading 🙂

    Cheryl: sweet sour spare ribs are really easy..give it a try!

    Connie: thanks for the feedback!

    Veeda: we actually just bought that set recently just for food styling! 🙂

  7. 7

    Tiny Urban Kitchen — May 19, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

    Looking forward to your pickled mustard greens post! I've tried a few times (both with American and Chinese mustard greens), and have had mixed success. Heh, sometimes I over-salt it. 🙂

  8. 8

    Butterfly — May 19, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

    Wow…this look so good. I am hungry now!!

  9. 9

    Ravenous Couple — May 19, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    Jen: we don't have exact measurements, but basically we taste the brine and if it's like overly salted soup, we stop.

    butterfly: thanks!

  10. 10

    Jenn — May 19, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

    I love sweet and sour dishes. I want this for a late lunch right now.

  11. 11

    Meghan — May 20, 2010 @ 2:02 am

    I remember eating the mustard green and dill soup as a child. Brings back great memories I had with my Ba ngoai. Would you please write up a recipe for that? I am eager to taste it again. =]

  12. 12

    houstonwok — May 20, 2010 @ 2:44 am

    Oh dear lord yes….perfect combination,save me a portion,i'm on the way….

  13. 13

    TofuCustard — May 20, 2010 @ 5:18 am

    Oo! I never heard of this dish before. I always had the thit kho version. You guys should make Bun Mam, if your into that type of thing. 😛

  14. 14

    Tuty @ Scent ofspice — May 20, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    I love pickled mustard soup too. We call it Sop Bakut Sawi Asin.

    BTW, I tried your Caramel Chicken. It got raved review from my crew 🙂

  15. 15

    noobcook — May 20, 2010 @ 9:22 am

    I love sweet and sour sauce, your pork ribs look amazing. So too the mustard soup. I'm totally hungry just from visually feasting on your photos 😛

  16. 16

    chubbychinesegirl — May 21, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

    I like that bento box at the end… i wish my lunch looked like that!

  17. 17

    Ravenous Couple — May 21, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

    Jenn: Have fun in the Phillipines!

    Meghan: looks like the pickled musturd green soup is in high demand!

    houstonwok: thanks!

    tofucustard: we've had bun mam, it's good!

    tuty: thanks for the feedback!

    noobcook: thank you!

    chubychinesegirl: Thank you!

  18. 18

    Carolyn Jung — May 23, 2010 @ 1:06 am

    I dunno why, but I always go crazy for these little nubbins of pork ribs, much more so than those giant American bbq ribs. Hmmm, maybe size does matter? 😉

  19. 19

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) — May 24, 2010 @ 1:08 am

    This ribs look so good! I have bookmarked it to cook soon 🙂 Thanks yet another wonderful vietnamese dish.

  20. 20

    Ravenous Couple — May 24, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

    Carolyn: it's just so much more fun to gnaw on these little nubbins–we agree completely!

    Ellie: your contribution to delicious vietnam looks so good..can't wait to see the entire post!

  21. 21

    Christine@Christine's Recipes — May 25, 2010 @ 12:59 am

    Wow, your ribs look wonderful and tempting. We also have sour sweet pork ribs in Chinese cuisine. But I bet that adding the fish sauce and Thai chili in it will make a big difference. Thanks for sharing your wonderful Vietnamese variation.

  22. 22

    Fresh Local and Best — May 25, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    This recipe is on that is completely new to me! I like the touch of tanginess achieved by tomatoes and vinegar. Yummy!

  23. 23

    WizzyTheStick — May 26, 2010 @ 1:00 am

    Honestly Vietnamese cooking was never on my my mind before reading your blog but everything you make is so mouthwatering. Is there a cook on Vietnamese cooking you might recommend? I am looking for a gift for a foodie friend

  24. 24

    Ravenous Couple — May 26, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    Christine and Christine: we had this about once a month growing up and love the sweet and sour tang!

    WizzyTheStick: we've converted you! 🙂 to be honest we don't have any Vietnamese cookbooks..however, our friend Anh recently reviewed some here

  25. 25

    Travel and Religion | La Pham Nikita — May 2, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

    […] such a cold May day, I’m doing things that make me warm and comfort me. I made sweet n sour pork (but I accidentally got beef ribs, but it still turned out tasty. I used to make this in college […]

  26. 26

    kar — August 9, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

    hi, just jotting down this recipe, but have a question..what is ‘ts’ ? Is it tablespoon or teaspoon?
    thank you! i cant wait to try out the dish! 🙂

  27. 27

    The Ravenous Couple — August 10, 2011 @ 8:04 am

    teaspoon..hope you enjoy it!

  28. 28

    Minh — October 8, 2011 @ 12:52 am

    that looked so good, I will try it tomorrow

  29. 29

    Pork: The Vietnamese Way — October 19, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

    […] ba chỉ (pork belly) is great for thit kho or just pan fried, the sườn (ribs) are great for sườn xào chua ngọt, the loin and tenderloin is great for making giò sống and chả lụa. The má (cheek), mỏ […]

  30. 30

    My Recipe Box – Incomplete version. « LuxeHunter.co.uk — March 7, 2012 @ 6:58 am

    […] Vietnamese sweet and sour ribs […]

  31. 31

    Loan — March 28, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    Hi Hong & Kim!!
    I just tried out the recipe, and it tastes veryyyy good! Thank you for sharing the recipe, and I will come back for more!

  32. 32

    recipes for dinner — November 25, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

    This was even tastier than I expected just looking at those great photos. The sweet and sour combination was just perfect. I allowed it to simmer a little longer though because I like my meat like that – soft. Wonderful wonderful recipe.

  33. 33

    Mae — August 20, 2013 @ 4:25 am

    Your website is amazing! I work in Vietnam and I was wondering whether you had translation of some recipes (Vietnamese)?
    Many thanks!



  34. 34

    Thanh — October 29, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    Hi I love all your presentations and recipes! I want to know if I can substitute the pork ribs with another kind…if so which would work? My family is really picky and hates to eat of the bones. Thankyou

  35. 35

    The Ravenous Couple — November 10, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

    maybe pork thigh meat or shoulder?

  36. 36

    3 meals of home-cooked food ! | The Little Ways in Everyday Life — June 29, 2014 @ 4:31 am

    […] this weekend. I cooked 3 meals this weekend. The meals are some of my favorite Vietnamese food : sweet and sour pork ribs, Nem ran (spring roll in English) , and stir fried pork kidneys […]

  37. 37

    Hangeroo — December 29, 2014 @ 11:15 pm

    I love, love, LOVE these ribblets! Every time my parents made them, I’d drool and devour more than my fair share of them. So glad you guys posted a common everyday recipe. You guys are beyond AMAZING in your recipes, blogging, and picture taking skills.

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