The method of making a caramel and then cooking the meat in the same pot is also practised in Vietnam. Here is a variation on a traditional Cambodian recipe.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4-6)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon palm sugar, grated
750g pork belly, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
150g sweet potato or pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 handful fresh coriander leaves and stems, chopped
Put the sugar and 1 tablespoon water into a large saucepan or stockpot and heat until it starts to bubble, stirring constantly until the mixture is a golden colour. Immediately add 250 ml water, the garlic, fish sauce, pepper and palm sugar, and stir while it comes to a boil. Add the pork, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the pork is tender. Add the ginger and sweet potato and continue to simmer for a further 15 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the coriander briefly, then serve hot with white rice.