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Heat a pan on medium and add a tablespoon of cooking oil and the crushed garlic cloves to the pan. Heat and stir fry for 2 minute until the garlic turns a light brown, then add the meat.
After the meat has been cooking for about 2 minutes, add 1/3 cup of water,
Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste the sauce. If you would like it saltier, add a splash of fish sauce. If you would like it spicier, add 1/2 teaspoon of chili pepper flakes
Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes to let the sauce boil down. Remove from heat and place the meat on a serving dish. Add cilantro leaves on top and sprinkle with a dash with pepper, if you want.
Serve with rice and vegetables.
*Note: You can get caramelized coconut sauce from an Asian market, but if you do not want to go though the trouble of finding it, you can make your own caramel sauce by heating 2 Tbsp. sugar on medium. Once the sugar changes to a dark brown, add 1/4 cup water and remove from heat immediately.
Upon examining the bottle, I found out that it is made from coconut juice (not milk). So, it is the water that comes out of the coconut when you first open one, this water doesn't really taste like coconut. I am guessing that it is then cooked to thicken and brown it. This would be why the sugar and water method would work just as well, cause the flavor isn't effected that much. I think Viet (my husband) just used the caramelized coconut juice because we had it laying around the house, and not so much because it was necessary for the recipe. I attached a photo of the bottle in case anyone really wanted to try and find it. It's name on the bottle is "Coco Carmel Super." : )
This a well known dish in Vietnamese culture. It is fantastic with rice!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 people