The only tricks are to use a heavy-bottom pot (I'm using my enameled cast iron pot) and to monitor and make sure there's enough liquid to burn the sugar, without scorching it. If it seems too dry, simply add more water and stir again.
Just regular white sugar works best so there's no need to get fancy. After the caramel sauce darkens, add the meats and stir to let the sauce color the meats. Then add water and braise.
How to Make Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce)
2 tblsp sugar
1/4 cup water
Heat pot to medium-high and add 2 tblsp sugar to pot with about 1/4 cup water.
There should be just enough water that the sugar is all wet with a little extra water around it.
Stir until mixed and sugar dissolved.
In about 10 minutes or so, the sugar will start to turn brown.
When it becomes caramelized like the picture below, add the meats and stir to color the meat. A little bit goes a long way, so that 2 tblsp of sugar made enough caramel sauce for a 2- to 5-quart stock pot. Then add water and braise.
Some of my recipes that use caramel sauce:
Banh Kem Dua (Vietnamese Coconut Flan)
Ca Kho To (Vietnamese Braised Fish in Claypot)
Thit Bo Kho Mang (Vietnamese Braised Beef with Bamboo Shoots)
Thit Heo Kho Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu)
Thit Heo Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
Xiu Mai (Vietnamese Meatballs)
1 year ago today, Top Island Seafood Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Alhambra.