Aka nước màu.
I used the recipe in Mai Pham’s Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, which basically consists of making dry caramel in a deep pan, and then taking the pan off the heat and pouring boiling water over the sugar to stop the burning process. Good thing I’m paranoid and stood a long way off when pouring the water, because the reaction is, let’s say, quite dramatic, with plenty of sputtering and hissing (and burning sugar, let me tell you, is hot enough for very nasty surprises).
Next up: kho dishes! (nope, I don’t have the required clay pot, but I’m planning to use our Le Creuset French oven for those–we got it as a wedding gift and haven’t actually used it. Figured now is as good a time to break it out).
Note: it’s slightly darker than most pictures around the Internet, because I used “sucre blond” (unsure of how to translate that in English. I think it’s blond cane sugar) instead of white sugar. It’s apparently not recommended to use anything other than white sugar to make caramel, because impurities in non-refined sugar lead to caramelising failure; but unless I missed something, everything went fine here…