AFF Indochina: Caramelized Chicken (Ga Kho)

Well we are back to Vietnam today and here is another Chicken recipe. I love discovering new dishes like this! Usually in a Vietnamese restaurant I don’t order any Chicken dishes because I’m always distracted by my two other favourites (Namely Pho and Broken Rice) and it’s hard enough to pick one. At least Ga Kho is really easy to whip up at home, unlike Pho which requires a little bit more effort. As for Broken Rice, I don’t even know if we can get that in Malaysia. Mmmm I really need to make that trip soon.

I actually came across this recipe when I was brainstorming for ideas to use up the chicken thighs that have been sitting in my freezer and I got excited when I saw the list of ingredients. Yes, it does mean I have to dig up my sugar container from the very back of the pantry but I couldn’t resist trying it out. Although I did reduce the sugar dramatically so my body doesn’t go into shock. Hah.

Caramelized Chicken (Ga Kho)

I thought it was an interesting cooking method, caramelizing the skin before pouring in the sauce and I wondered about the flavours penetrating into the flesh. Turns out this way of cooking ensure the chicken gets all the umaminess from fish sauce with a lovely hint of sweetness. I decided to omit the chili (to protect my voice) and added in basil as suggested by The Ravenous Couple. It was a great meal! Even better the next day too. This is a recipe I will keep for sure!

Caramelized Chicken – Ga Kho (adapted from Food Wishes and Ravenous Couple)
Printable recipe

4 Chicken thighs (or any parts that is bone-in, more juicy and more flavour)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 stalk of lemongrass, finely minced
2 shallots minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce for marinade
1 tbs brown sugar for marinade
2 green onions, sliced about 1/2 inch
Handful of Basil
Fresh cracked pepper
Roasted sesame seeds
Coconut Oil

Marinade the chicken with fish sauce and brown sugar for about 1/2 hr. In the meantime in a small bowl make the sauce by combining 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, rice vinegar, and fish sauce and mix until dissolve. Add the lemongrass, shallots, and garlic and set aside.

Heat a large pan on high with cooking oil and add the chicken with the flat surface of thigh facing down. Allow to sear without touching them for a minute or so and then pour in about half of the sauce. Try not to move around the chicken as you want the chicken to sear and caramelize.

The sauce will start to thicken and the chicken will brown after a few minutes. Check to see if it’s nicely caramelized, then turn the pieces of chicken over and pour in the rest of the sauce. Continue to cook until sauce is reduced to nice thick consistency and just as you turn off the heat, toss in the basil and green onions.

Transfer to serving platter and generously top with roasted sesame and fresh cracked pepper.

Mmmm lovely!

The obvious choice of food pairing would be rice, and perhaps lots of it. I enjoyed mine with a side of vegetables as usual with all my meat dishes. The juicy meat, sweet savoury skin, along with the aroma of basil, lemongrass and sesame made me a very happy girl indeed. As mentioned, the basil is optional and feel free to add your preferred level of spiciness.

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest – IndoChina hosted by Kelly Siew Cooks.

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