Make These Sticky, Saucy Pork Ribs from Oma’s Hideaway

These Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysian, and Lao-influenced ribs will steal the show at your next barbecue.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton

Barbecue ribs from Oma’s Hideaway

Image: Thomas Teal

Ribs should be the highlight of every summer barbecue: juicy, fun to eat, sticky, saucy, sweet, and spicy. At Oma’s Hideaway, the Malaysian Chinese–influenced psychedelic younger sister restaurant of Indonesian-inspired restaurant Gado Gado, chef Thomas Pisha-Duffly specializes in roasted meats including duck, char siu, and ribs. After taking a turn in the duck oven, these ribs get finished off on the grill for a lovely char—a method of cooking that reminds him of summertime family get-togethers, where they’d devour a spread of satay pork, beef, and chicken, plus gado gado, rice, pickled cucumbers, and peanut sauce.

“Grilled pork with a sweet caramel and some of the sugars dripping into the pork fire—it sets off this indicative aroma that you can smell inside the house, on the street, and around the block,” he says. “It just means good things are coming.”

Initially inspired by the black bean spareribs you’d find on a dim sum cart, these ribs draw influence from several staff members’ personal and work backgrounds. The ribs are dry-rubbed with Chinese five-spice powder, brushed in Vietnamese-style fish sauce caramel, and served with spicy roasted tomato jeow, a sauce typical of Lao cuisine. At the restaurant, Pisha-Duffly uses rib tips, which are fatty, cartilage-filled, and super-flavorful, a cut he’d often see in Malaysian cooking. You can use whatever cut of pork ribs you prefer. No grill? You can make these babies entirely in the oven—we did just that, with great results. We grabbed all the ingredients at Hong Phat (101 SE 82nd Ave). Serve these ribs with regular white rice or sticky rice, rice noodles, or lettuce wraps. 

Oma’s Pork Ribs

By Thomas Pisha-Duffly

Serves 4 


For the ribs:

  • 5 lbs pork ribs, spare ribs, baby back ribs, or rib tips
  • 2 tbsp five spice powder
  • Kosher salt


For the fish sauce caramel:

  • 7½ g Thai bird chile, stems removed (about 5 chiles)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 50 g galangal (about 1 root)
  • 50 g lemongrass (about 4 bulbs)
  • 5 g lime leaves (about 8 leaves)
  • ½ cup fish sauce, divided in half


For the roasted tomato jeow:

  • 150 g cherry tomatoes (about 12 large)
  • 50 g shallots, peeled (about 2 shallots)
  • 15 g garlic, peeled (about 3 cloves)
  • 6 g serrano or jalapeño peppers, stem removed (about ½)
  • 7½ g Thai bird chile, stems removed (about 5)
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • ¼ can jackfruit, drained (about 1 large piece)
  • 45 g lime juice (from about 4 limes) 
  • Handful cilantro


For garnish:

  • Handful cilantro
  • Handful fresh mint
  • Handful Thai basil
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce caramel



1. Make fish sauce caramel.

Peel galangal with a knife and cut into thick slices. Discard the outer layer of the lemongrass and use only the first four inches of the bulb; cut into ½-inch pieces. 

Add sugar to pot and begin melting over low-medium heat, adding 1 tbsp of water if necessary. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. 

Once melted, add half the fish sauce, then stir to re-melt. Add galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves, then allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain and discard herbs, then set aside.

2. Make roasted tomato jeow.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix tomato, shallots, garlic, and chiles in a bowl with oil and salt. Spread in a single layer across a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 15–20 minutes, or until tomatoes have charred but garlic has not burnt. Discard any cloves of garlic that have blackened.

Place roasted vegetables in a food processor with jackfruit and blend well. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Add salt to taste.

3. Cook the ribs.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously sprinkle ribs with salt, then rub generously with five-spice powder. 

Wrap ribs in foil, then place on baking tray and bake for 2 hours. Remove ribs from foil. 

If grilling: Brush with some fish sauce caramel and grill over medium heat until charred in spots, continuing to brush ribs with fish sauce caramel periodically until cooked through and tender, but not falling off the bone.

If using the oven: Brush with some fish sauce caramel and roast for another 1–1½ hours, removing from oven every 20 minutes to brush with additional fish sauce caramel.

4. Finish and serve.

Chiffonade herbs for the garnish. Toss ribs in bowl with herbs and fish sauce caramel, and stir to coat. Serve with roasted tomato jeow for dipping and your choice of side.