Massaman Curry Ribs

Coconut Massaman Ribs

While brainstorming for new sauces to braise and glaze ribs in, I decided that massaman curry would be great to try. People often associate peanut sauces with Thai food, so a complex massaman sauce would work for people who know Thai well, but also Thai beginners who are just looking for a little peanut, lime, and chile in their meal. The sauce complimented the savory pork ribs well and is a unique rib flavor I recommend anyone to try.

I like to make the paste in a mortar and pestle but you can do it in the food processor without much of a difference in flavor.
The paste is super fragrant and will make you hungry for these ribs immediately even though you have several hours before you can eat.
Pour the coconut milk over the ribs along with some fish sauce and let it sit while you finish the curry.
Use the solids from the can of coconut milk to fry the massaman paste in.
Again, this is really fragrant and will make you hungry instantly.  Make sure you have snacks around.
The paste is finally mixed with the coconut milk and some cinnamon, cardamom, and peanuts are added.  Bake this for about 3 and a half hours until tender.
Once they are cooked, chop them up and add parsley, peanuts, and lime wedges before serving.
These ribs have great flavor.  The sauce adds a nice depth and really is able to form a glaze on the ribs without having to make a separate glaze.
Mixing fresh and cooked versions of the same ingredient is something I first learned from Mario Batali on Molto Mario, and it applies perfectly to this dish. There are elements of braised peanut, lime, and cilantro, along with fresh peanut, lime, and cilantro, and the pairing works really well.

Coconut Massaman Ribs

Pork ribs braised in Thai Massaman curry.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time4 hours
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Mash-Up
Servings: 1 rack of ribs


massaman paste

  • 3 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 lemongrass stalks chopped hearts only, fiberous layers removed
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems
  • 1 or 2 teaspoonss chile flake to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt

ribs and sauce

  • 1 rack of ribs
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 14 ounce cans coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cup peanuts


  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • limes


  • Chill the cans of coconut milk for at least an hour ahead of starting this recipe
  • Open the coconut milk and spoon out about 1/2 cup of the solids from the can and set aside.
  • Put all the massaman paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle or food processor and smash or process it until smooth.
  • Preheat oven to 325. Put the ribs into a baking dish and pour the fish sauce and remaining coconut milk over them. Also add in the cinnamon, cardamom, honey, and 1/2 cup of peanuts.
  • In a frying pan, heat up the reserved coconut solids. Add in the massaman paste and saute for about 7 minutes. Add this mixture to the baking dish with the ribs and stir it well to combine. Spoon plenty of the mixture on the top of the ribs and pop them into the oven.
  • Bake for about 3 and a half hours, flipping a few times during cooking, stirring occasionally, and adding water as needed if the sauce gets too thick and threatens to burn. Remove from the oven when they are tender enough that a fork can go in and move around pretty easily.
  • Remove the ribs from the pan and remove any excess chunks from the actual ribs. Pour the pan sauce through a mesh strainer and set aside.
  • Allow the ribs to rest 10 minutes. Pour on some of the strained pan sauce. Slice and arrange on a platter, and top with the chopped peanuts and cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.


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