The Ribs of Sapa

Ribs in Sapa

My worthless superpower is the ability to step into any city in the world and find a joint that serves barbecued pork . Sapa in Northern Vietnam is not a mecca but ribs were there to be unearthed, alongside the usual assortment of chicken parts and other innards prepped for the grill on the street just north of Sapa’s central market. The ribs had the heavy charcoal flavour that comes from a long period of rest in a sugar-packed marinade followed by a short and brutal blast over the coals.

Ribs in Sapa

One of the barbecue innovations that you see around Vietnam is superheating the charcoal barbecue with an electric fan. I never saw this in Cambodia (possibly as a result of extortionate electricity prices), but it seems to be more common in Thailand as well, especially as a technique for heating a charcoal-fuelled wok burner.

4 Comments The Ribs of Sapa

  1. Robyn

    I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘worthless’ superpower, Phil.

    The fan bit is pretty common in Malaysia too – look for it especially in Penang. We just did an article on charcoal cooking there that should be out in a couple wks.

  2. Xander

    Wow- I rather love the photo of the woman tending to the grill. The blur of the fan, the smoke from the grill, and the light from the t-shirt shop- really beautiful shot. -X

  3. Kevin

    What an admiral superpower. If I had one, I’d be jealous of yours.

    And again – I love the fan. I’ll have to keep an eye out for something to do that job around here. I sure hope charcoal cooking finds its way over here…


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