Put the palm sugar and ¼ cup of water into a wok or frying pan. Stir over a moderate heat until the sugar has dissolved, then allow to boil without stirring for 3–5 minutes until the syrup is a light golden colour.
Add the pork, onion, fish sauce, kecap manis, and 1 cup of water to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and cook gently on an even simmer for about 25–30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, you may need to stir the meat occasionally to ensure that the caramel sauce doesn't catch to the bottom of the pan, and that the sauce cooks evenly. The meat should be tender and the sauce thick and syrupy enough to coat the meat.
To serve, arrange onto plates with steamed jasmine rice and Asian greens. Scatter with fried shallots and coriander.
• You can use pork spare ribs for this dish instead, or even chicken fillets. • Kecap manis is a sweet soy sauce available in the Asian section of the supermarket. If you can't find it, use soy sauce sweetened with a little light brown sugar. • Fried shallots are available in the Asian section of many supermarkets and Asian food stores. If you can't find them, either omit them or try making your own. Thinly slice small French shallots, then deep-fry in hot oil for a few minutes until golden and crisp. Drain well, allow to cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Not recommended. Creates a pile of sweet flavoured pork pieces and that's about it. Visually unappealing, virtually no sauce, tends to dry out the pork, and very lacking in vegetable ingredients. Boring. - 24 May 2012