1/3 c Sugar
1/4 c Nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish
4 Shallots, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper
Thought your reference to cooking sugar syrup to "caramelize" it was
interesting. It reminded me of a sauce that's used in Vietnamese
cuisine. It's used in a variety of recipes and turns out to be the
"secret" ingredient that gives barbecued Vietnamese stuff that unique
taste when used as a marinade for strips of beef, chicken or pork. I
use it in Satay recipes. The result is a subtle, delicious taste.
It also gives a nice glazed finish to stuff. Its use shouldn't be
limited to Asian cuisine. In fact, I suspect that this is originally
a French influence...
"...the only rule to remember is to turn off the smoke alarm and open
all the windows, as the sauce will smoke heavily, with a pungent
smell." [I didn't find this to be much of a problem. S.C..] Cook the
sugar in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, swirling the pan
constantly, until brown. It will smoke slightly. Immediately remove
the pan from the heat and stir the fish sauce into the caramel, being
careful to guard against splattering (the mixture will bubble
Return the mixture to low heat and gently boil, swirling the pan
occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3
minutes. Add the shallots and ground pepper to taste; stir to
combine. Use in recipes where required. [Or, as I noted, as a
marinade for BBQ stuff. S.C..]
NOTE: Cool this sauce thoroughly before using. If cold food is
added to a caramel sauce that is hot, the sugar will harden instantly
and you'll end up with a dish full of candy chips.
Yield: 1/3 cup.
From "The Foods of Vietnam" by Nicole Rauthier. Stewart, Tabori &
You can multiply the recipe and keep it on hand for when needed. It
Posted by Stephen Ceideburg; December 20 1990.