3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. water
1 1/2 lbs. pork belly, cut into large 2" cubes
1/4 cup fish sauce
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped shallots (optional)
3 scallions, cut into 2" sections
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup water
Fresno or Jalapeno chile, seeded and thinly sliced for garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro or Thai basil for garnish
1. Place 3 tbsp. of sugar and 2 tbsp. of water into a saute pan or a medium wok. Bring to a boil over high heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture starts to turn into a light brown caramel, stirring only briefly (over stirring can cause the mixture to crystalize).
2. Add the pork cubes and toss to mix; stir the pork until browned and some of the fat has rendered.
3. Stir in the chopped garlic and shallots (if using). Add the fish sauce, black pepper, and scallions and toss to combine.
4. Add 1 cup of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Pour the mixture into a clay pot if you have one (otherwise, just keep it in the pan or wok). Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the pork belly is really tender. Skim as much fat as you can from the top of the braising liquid.
5. Plate and garnish with some sliced fresh chilis, chopped cilantro and/or Thai basil. Serve with steamed white rice.