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Vietnamese-Style Lamb Riblets with Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce

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Serves 4 to 6 as an hors d’oeuvre or appetizer

  • by Molly Stevens from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

Lamb riblets (which are smaller than pork spareribs) make for deliciously unexpected finger food. They’re perfect party fare because you can roast them ahead of time and then run them under the broiler at the last minute to get even more caramelized flavor and crisp edges.

For the marinade
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. whole coriander seed, toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp. chile sauce, such as sambal oelek or sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 lb. lamb breast riblets (also called Denver-style ribs)
For the dipping sauce
  • 2 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
Marinate the riblets

Put all of the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Put the riblets in a gallon-size freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and massage the riblets to evenly distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 and up to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally to redistribute the marinade.

Cook the riblets

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Remove the riblets from the marinade, scraping any excess seasonings back into the bag (reserve the marinade). Arrange the riblets bone side down on a flat roasting rack in a roasting pan or on a heavy-duty baking sheet. Roast, basting with the reserved marinade every 20 minutes for the first hour, until the meat is very tender and can be easily pierced with a knife, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Make the dipping sauce

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Finish and serve

Position an oven rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiling element and heat the broiler on high. Arrange the riblets cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until browned and sizzling on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with tongs and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the dipping sauce and plenty of napkins.

Make Ahead Tips

The riblets can be roasted, cooled, and refrigerated up to 2 days ahead. Bring to room temperature before broiling.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 340; Fat (g): 25; Fat Calories (kcal): 220; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 19; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): 11; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): 1710; Cholesterol (mg): 75; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

What a great find!!! I came across lamb riblets in my supermarket recently and remembered this recipe from my subscription. Needless to say, I grabbed the riblets and ventured into making the riblets. A bit time intensive, so plan ahead, but well worth it. My entire family loved them, especially my 9 year old, who has become very finicky in his eating, but he loved these. In fact, he has asked me to make them for his upcoming birthday party. These have quickly become a family favorite.

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