Dish of Caramel Sauce

Caramel Sauce
Vietnam, Cambodia
  -   nuoc mau, nuoc hang (Viet)
3/4 c  
55 min  
This is an essential ingredient in Vietnamese and Cambodian kitchens, with many uses. It may be used as a glaze, and as a flavoring and coloring, particularly in stews called Kho. It has a dark color and bittersweet flavor.

Water (more)
PREP:   -   (5 min)
  1. Select a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, multiply stainless or enameled iron. It is important the inside is light in color so you can judge color. You will also need a wood or metal spatula with which to scrape the bottom of the pan.
  2. Set out a shallow pan of cold water so that when the sauce pan is set in it, the water will come up about 1/3 on its sides. This is a quench to instantly stop the cooking at just the right point.
RUN:   -   (50 min)
  1. In the saucepan, put the Sugar and 1/4 c Water. Heat over very moderate heat, stirring until the sugar is evenly dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Now leave it alone.
  2. The Sugar should soon start to bubble a little at the edges, then more bubbling into the center. If the heat is right, it should bubble enthusiastically, but not angrily.
  3. Eventually, in 25 to 30 minutes, it should form a hard crust, then become all crusty. You will now see the Sugar beginning to melt. You can stir it up a little at this point, breaking up the crust so it melts evenly. Watch it with care.
  4. The Sugar will darken. When it is nearing coffee color, you will see a few wisps of smoke. Immediately take the pan off the heat and stir continuously, watching the color with care. When it achieves a reddish coffee color, set the pan into the waiting cold water to quench the cooking. After a minute or so, you can pour the other 1/2 cup of Water into the pan with only moderate sizzling. The Caramel will immediately seize up hard.
  5. Put the pan back on the slow burner and heat it, but not to a boil. Stir often until the caramel has completely dissolved into the water. Let it cool for a few minutes, then pour it into a small wide mouth jar.
  6. If you got it right, it should have a very dark color and moderately bittersweet flavor. Cover the jar and store it at room temperature - it will not spoil.
  1. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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