Nuoc mau (pronounced ‘nook mao’, originating from south Vietnam) is the irresistible caramel syrup that is key to many traditional Vietnamese dishes. It is especially important in stews and for marinating seafood and meat, such as the caramelized grilled pork used in Bánh mì thịt nướng (Vietnamese sandwich with grilled pork chop). The syrup gives these dishes their distinctive flavors and dark color. You can use nuoc mau anytime you want to barbecue meat by simply adding a tablespoon to your normal marinade. Do not mistake this for a sweet caramel sauce – this will not go well on your dessert! Nuoc mau is easy to make and it lasts forever, so you might as well make up a little batch to keep on reserve.