2 lbs. Pork Belly cut in 1 cubes, or Pork Jowl
3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
3 Star Anise
1 Tsp. Saigon Cinnamon
2 Tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
1” knob Ginger, peeled and minced
4 Tbsp. Peanut oil
1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
2 Tbsp. Fish sauce
1 1/2 Cups water
Bunch of cilantro, chopped
For the Vietnamese caramel sauce
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons water
In a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, combine the star anise, cinnamon and black peppercorns. Crush and or/grind the spices. In a small heavy bottom pan, combine the sugar and water. Over medium heat, allow the sugar to melt. Stir occasionally to help sugar and water to combine evenly. Once the sugar melts completely, the mixture will slowly start to turn a golden brown color. Continue swirling the pan until the caramel becomes a light brown color. Immediately remove from heat and put aside.
Heat another, large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. (A Dutch oven works well) After the pan warms, add the oil, minced ginger and garlic. Stir until garlic becomes light brown and fragrant. Add the ground spice mixture and sauté for a minute. Add the pork and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the fish sauce and salt. Stir to incorporate.
Slowly add the Caramel. You may have to heat the pan containing the caramel in order to loosen it from the pan. Allow the pork to cook in the caramel for about five more minutes. Then add the water and reduce the heat to low. Continue braising the pork for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
Serve with warm rice or noodles and top with the chopped cilantro.