Asia has always been ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to dishes with bright, clear flavors. The food has a complexity that cannot be beaten.
I suppose this is how it was historically created due to the population’s poverty and their need to consume large amounts of rice and noodles. Rice, in itself, is quite neutral and bland in taste. however, it is cheap and widely available, unlike meat and other expensive products. Because of this, Asian meat dishes were given the strongest possible flavor to diversify the taste of rice and to allow them to be used in small quantities.
This recipe for Vietnamese caramel chicken is no exception. A caramel sauce gives the chicken a sweetness and the same smoothness as caramel. There’s a little chili to tickle the taste buds slightly and fish sauce perfectly emphasizes the taste of meat, makes it richer, and helps to tie all flavors together. In the end, the sweet and salty components work perfectly together. Reminding us once again that most brilliant things are simple.
The undeniable plus of this dish is that you don’t need to dirty a lot of dishes. The whole process takes place in one big frying pan or wok. In it, we will fry the chicken, prepare the sauce, and bring the dish to completeness.
- 6-8 chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 70 g sugar
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 150 ml of water
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 chili pepper
- sliced cucumber
- boiled rice
I recommend using chicken thighs for this recipe. Due to their high-fat content, the flavor of the dish will be more intense, and the meat will remain tender and juicy even with prolonged heat treatment. If you prefer, you can use quarters — the effect will be about the same.
You may use the breasts but you will have to change the cooking technique a little, so as not to dry the meat out. If you cook with the breast, the plan is as follows: cut the breasts into a butterfly shape and fry it until it is ready (65 degrees Celsius inside), +/- 5 minutes on each side. Allow to rest and then cut into long strips. Then mix everything for the sauce, but put the meat into it as the very last step for only a couple of minutes.
Step 1. Salt the chicken, heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a large pan, and fry it from one side.
Salt the chicken on both sides. Heat some oil in a large frying pan or wok and put the chicken in with the skin down. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.
Step 2. Turn over and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Put on a plate. Chop the garlic while the chicken is frying.
Turn over and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Put the chicken onto a plate. A lot of fat is released from the thighs so drain the extra fat, leaving about 2 tbsp. in the pan.
While the chicken is frying, chop the garlic.
Step 3. Fry 3 cloves of finely sliced garlic.
Add the garlic to the pan and fry lightly for about a minute. Pour in 2 Tbsp fish sauce and add 70g of sugar, 150ml of water and bring to a boil. Scrape the sticky pieces off the bottom of the pan as you go.
Step 4. Return the chicken thighs to the pan with the skin up, reduce the heat, and cook for 10 minutes.
Return the chicken to the frying pan with the skin up. Reduce the heat to a minimum and cook for 10 minutes.
Step 5. Turn the chicken thighs over, cover with the lid, and cook for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens and becomes a nice caramel color.
Turn the chicken, putting the skin down, cover it with the lid and cook for another 15 minutes until the excess liquid has evaporated and the sauce has acquired the consistency and color of liquid caramel.
During the final minutes, shake the frying pan slightly to avoid burning.
If you see that the sauce has darkened in the center and the color has changed very little at the edges, mix the contents of the frying pan with a spatula.
Step 6. Stir the contents again. Serve with boiled rice and sliced cucumber.
Mix the contents of the pan well to cover the chicken with the sauce on all sides. Sprinkle chicken with finely sliced chili. Serve with boiled or steamed rice and fresh cucumber slices. Sprinkle with finely sliced Chile. Don’t forget to top the chicken and rice with the rest of the sauce from the pan.
Caramel Vietnamesse Chicken
- 6-8 chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 150 ml water
- 3 cloves garlic
- 70 g white sugar
- 1 red chili
- black pepper to taste
- sliced cucumber
- boiled or steamed rice
- Salt the chicken, heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a large pan, and fry it from one side.
- Turn over and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Put on a plate. Chop the garlic while the chicken is frying.
- Fry 3 cloves of finely sliced garlic.
- Return the chicken thighs to the pan with the skin up, reduce the heat, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Turn the chicken thighs over, cover with the lid, and cook for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens and becomes a nice caramel color.
- Stir the contents again. Serve with boiled rice and sliced cucumber.
Can it be cooked without sugar?
Can it be cooked without fish sauce?
Yes. But the caramel chicken will lose some of its flavor.
Can it be cooked without chicken?
What to replace fish sauce with?
You can try to replace fish sauce with soy sauce. Or a mix of soy sauce and lime juice in the ratio of 1 to 1. Or a mix of say sauce and rice vinegar in the same ratio.
Can it be cooked without garlic?
Yes, but you will lose some taste and flavour too.
Can it be cooked without chilli?