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Vietnamese Caramel Chicken with Ginger

Chicken thighs braised in a sweet and sticky Vietnamese-style caramel sauce. This Vietnamese Caramel Chicken with Ginger is delicious served with steamed rice. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the Braised Chicken

For the Caramel Sauce

To Serve

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil over high heat in a large saucepan which will fit all of the chicken pieces comfortably in a single layer.
  2. Season the chicken on both sides generously with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Place the chicken pieces skin-side down in the pan, and cook until golden. This step will also help to render the fat in the chicken skin, which will give a lot of flavour to the sauce later.
  4. Turn the chicken pieces over and brown the other side as well.
  5. Remove the chicken pieces to a large plate.
  6. Remove any excess oil in the pan – you want just a few tablespoons of fat in the pan.
  7. Reduce the stove to medium heat.
  8. Add the garlic and ginger, together with a good pinch of sea salt.
  9. Cook the garlic and ginger for a few minutes until they have softened.
  10. Add the brown sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
  11. Add the remaining ingredients for the caramel sauce.
  12. Return the chicken pieces to the pan with the skin-side facing up.
  13. Bring the pan to a gentle simmer and then turn the stove down to low heat.
  14. Cover with a lid and braise the chicken for about 40 minutes.
  15. Remove the lid.
  16. Turn the chicken pieces over.
  17. Simmer the chicken on medium heat for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Chicken thighs generally require a long cooking time so that the meat can tenderise and fall easily off the bone. 
  18. During this time, the sauce will reduce and slowly become thick and sticky. It might seem like it will never reduce, but be patient! I generally aim to cook the chicken until the meat falls away from the bone easily, and then I will focus on reducing the sauce to the right consistency.
  19. As you are waiting for the sauce to reduce, taste for seasoning. If, for whatever reason, your sauce has reduced too much, simply dilute with some more coconut water or boiling water.
  20. Once you are ready to serve, garnish with coriander (cilantro) and red chillies.

Kitchen Notes

MAKE IT WITH SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS OR CHICKEN THIGHS
Slice 600 g (1.3 lb) chicken breasts and/or thighs into large chunks. Cook as per the recipe above, but reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes without the lid on a low-medium heat. As the meat is not on the bone, you don’t need to cook the chicken for as long.

MAKE IT CHILD-FRIENDLY
The black pepper, as well as the fresh ginger, can make this dish a little spicy. Either omit both ingredients, or reduce the quantities.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.