Chicken in Caramel Sauce

Chicken in Caramel Sauce

This is really good

This recipe is from the Washington Post, which adapted it from a recipe from the Slanted Door restaurant that appeared in a cookbook called The Secrets of Success: Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Fran’s Best Restaurants by Michael Bauer…

1/2 Cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 Cup water
1/4 Cup Asian fish sauce
3 T rice vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp thinly sliced fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (1/2 usually enough for me)
2 small chili peppers, fresh or dried, halved (I always use fresh)
1 T canola oil
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 1/2 - 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat, cut into bite-size pieces (can use a combo of light and dark meat, if you prefer)

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, water, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, pepper, and chilis, and mix well. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat (can also use a wok, but I’ve had better luck w/a skillet). Add shallot and cook, stirring, until brown, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on each side but not cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Stir the reserved sauce mixture and add to skillet. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to med-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by about half and the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the chili peppers. Remove pan from heat, set aside until sauce has thickened and cooled slightly, about 3 minutes.
Serve with rice.

Note: This is traditionally a Vietnamese dish. If you haven’t cooked w/fish sauce before, you’ll notice that it’s pretty stinky before it’s cooked (!), but when the sauce is all together it gives it a really distinctive flavor that would be difficult to duplicate without it. I’m able to get it in my local grocery store, but if you can’t, then Asian markets will be sure to have it.

The dish can be more spicy or less, depending what you do w/the pepper and chilis. If I want it less spicy, I remove all the seeds from the chilis before adding them to the sauce. This time, I left most of the seeds in, and it was very spicy. Probably there’s a happy medium and it would be spicy enough w/about half the seeds. If you prefer it to be more sweet than spicy, remove all the seeds and use a bit less black pepper (even tho I like it spicy, I never need more than 1/2 tsp of pepper).

One problem I have is that the chicken is usually done faster than the sauce is reduced. It doesn’t particularly suffer as a result, but it would probably help if I used a larger skillet so the chicken could brown faster while cooking for a shorter time.