International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Nuoc Mau

Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese caramelized sugar sauce)

(Vietnamese caramel sauce)

Image by jessicafm

Average: 4 (4 votes)

Nuoc mau may be a caramel sauce, but it's not the kind you pour over ice cream. This rich and slightly bitter concoction gives a complex dimension of flavor to many Vietnamese dishes, especially braised dishes known as kho.

Homemade is best, but if you don't want to make your own caramel syrup, you can use the commercial version found in many Asian markets. A common brand calls it "coco caramel surup." Or try using Indonesian kecap manis.

Makes about 3/4 cup


  • Sugar -- 1 cup
  • Water -- 1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup


  1. Add the sugar and 1/4 cup of the water to a small saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-low flame and cook, stirring, until the sugar just starts to turn dark brown, around 10 to 15 minutes. The color should be roughly that of black coffee, and the sugar will start to lightly smoke.
  2. Remove from heat and immediately and carefully pour the remaining 1/2 cup water into the caramelized sugar. Be prepared for a lot of noise and boiling. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for several weeks.


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