This recipe could not be any easier, and if you are looking for a different way to cook chicken, this is one for you. Yes, there is a lot of sugar, but once the velvety, shiny sauce cooks down, the flavor is very complex with hits of spice and tang. Do not let the fish sauce deter you. There are a number of good brands on the market, and you can find them at your local Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Japanese markets. It can range in levels of saltiness, aroma and also color–from clear and light brown to murky gray. Find which one works best for you, and you’ll see that it can work in stir fries, salads, burgers, ribs and more. Consider this the start of Vietnamese recipe testing!
4 chicken thighs, with bone and skin
4 chicken legs, with skin
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Thai chilis, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup sugar, plus ½ teaspoon
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce*
cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 tablespoon brown sugar, black pepper and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Mix the onions, ginger, garlic, half the scallions and Thai chilis in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Once ready, pour both the sugars into a medium skillet over medium high heat and cook until they both begin to mix and melt, approximately 3-5 minutes. Pour 1/3 cup of water, the fish sauce and rice vinegar, along with the onions, ginger, garlic and Thai chilis. Cook another 5-7 minutes or until the sauce just begins to reduce, then remove from heat.
3. In a separate, larger skillet, heat a swirl of canola oil with the 1/2 teaspoon sugar over medium high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and sear on both sides, approximately 2 minutes per side, making sure the skin has sufficiently browned.
4. Pour half of the sauce in with the chicken and cook until it reduces by half. Turn the chicken over and add the remaining sauce. Cover and cook another 20-25 minutes or until done, basting the chicken occasionally and turning as necessary.
5. Garnish the chicken with the remaining scallions once done.
6. There wasn’t enough fish sauce in the house, so there is a significant decrease in the suggested amount for the caramel sauce. The chicken was marinated with soy sauce for this reason as well. If you’re going 100%% traditional, use all fish sauce for pure authenticity.