Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ga Kho, Vietnamese for Caramelized Chicken

Sticky, caramely chicken on steamed rice.

I've taken to browsing Tastespotting. And while I've come across tons of photos with links to recipes, this one by Ravenous Couple is one I kept returning to. Ingredient-wise, it is very similar to the caramelized chicken I've made before. I had to give this one a go just for the sake of comparison. After all, this one has a certain thing about it. It looks very vibrant, much more caramel-y, and so much more, well, appetizing.

Since having purchased 4 whole chickens, thighs and legs were aplenty. I printed Ravenous Couple's recipe and gave it a go.

You'll have to click the link for the recipe, but read on to find a play-by-play of what happened when I tried it.  I didn't deviate from the original recipe except for the fact that I added more ginger and reduced the number of peppers.

Approximately 3 pounds of skinless but bone-in chicken legs and thighs were allowed to marinate in a combo of 2 tbsp fish sauce and 1 tbsp brown sugar in a large bowl for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile 3/4 cups brown sugar and 1/3 cup each of fish sauce, rice vinegar and water were mixed until the sugar was dissolved.

Then 4 minced cloves of garlic, 3 tbsp finely minced ginger and 2 minced large shallots were stirred into the brown sugar mixture.

In a large skillet, 2 tbsp olive oil was heated until hot. The chicken pieces were added, service side down. After 2-3 minutes, ensuring chicken pieces were seared, 1/3 of the brown sugar/onion mixture was poured over the chicken.

After 8 minutes, the chicken began to look "cooked". The chicken pieces were flipped, the remaining brown sugar/onion mixture was added in, and the entire thing was allowed to come back to boiling, which took less than 1 minute.

The boiling was allowed to continue to cook until the saucy mixture was reduced to a caramely consistency, about half the original content. That time for me was 14 minutes and it was definitely gooey by then. Once removed from heat; I added in sliced jalapeno peppers (I used only one -- gotta keep Rodney's boop-chute intact) and a couple of sliced green onion.

The chicken was transferred to a serving dish (in our case, a glass bowl) before it was sprinkled with sesame seeds and fresh cracked pepper.

What can I say...this recipe definitely topped my old recipe in every possible way. It was not any more difficult to prepare and the flavor. Mmm! The flavor! So rich and completely pleasing! Rodney and I both enjoyed this recipe, I mean, really enjoyed this recipe. The only thing about it was the difficulty in eating it since the pieces were bone-in. Definitely have napkins or better yet, a warm damp cloth at your side.

I'm absolutely sure that having bone-in chicken was one key player in how tasty this was, but I will try it again with boneless pieces. After all, I (try to remember to) take leftovers to work for lunch and a sticky face complete with head hair stuck in the stick and gnashing maw gnawing on chicken bones held by stick-induced-club fingers isn't exactly the image Corporate America is trying to get across to coworkers or visitors happening by.

Check out Ravenous Couple for this dish and plenty of others.  I will.

  • chicken thighs and legs: about $1.77
  • let's assume $6 for the rest of the stuff, including the rice
  • Total: $7.77 for this dish, which served 2x Rodney and me, making it $1.94 a serving.
You're crazy not to try this!!


Ravenous Couple said...

so glad you enjoyed the ga kho recipe! your version looks great and only $1.94/serving!!! That's the beauty of this recipe..very easily tailored to your taste. Try altering it to include more lemongrass--called ga kho xa.

The Cook said...

It was a definite hit. I'll be sure to follow up on your recommendation and include lemongrass next time. I'm sure it will be fantastic too!