Emboldened by our recent experience of making caramel candy at home, we decided to take the next step: Vietnamese caramel sauce. Some time ago, I got a copy of Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. It’s a great book, and just reading the recipe titles will make you salivate, but so far the only thing I had done out of it was follow general guidelines for fresh spring rolls. Jon had discovered a recipe for a kho of pork ribs cooked in caramel sauce, though, and since he was on winter break he decided to go for it. Vietnamese caramel sauce is very different from caramel candy: it’s very dark, with a deep, almost burnt, bittersweet flavor. I had never tasted it before, and I was amazed at the savory scent of the ribs as they braised.
This is not a quick weeknight recipe, let me warn you. Jon made the caramel sauce in the morning, got the ribs marinating early, then broiled them in the late afternoon. We braised them after I got home from work and had a late dinner. But leftovers were fabulous – even better than the first night – so you could definitely do this recipe ahead and set it all aside for later. We thought the sauce was best when it was reduced down to a syrup, which is easiest to do if you take the ribs out and just boil the heck out of the liquid in the pan. Continue reading