When people think of Vietnamese foods, dishes like pho (beef noodle soup) and bun thit nuong (rice vermicelli noodle with grilled meat) come to mind. While I love these, they’re time consuming to make so our everyday Vietnamese cooking is a little different. Com gia dinh is the Vietnamese phrase for family meal. The formula is always a savory main protein of some sorts dish, a complementing vegetable side and a light palette cleansing soup/broth served with rice. Ga kho gung – ginger chicken is a simple but staple main dish. It involves caramelizing sugar to give the chicken color but that’s as complicated as it gets. If you don’t have fish sauce on hand, try replacing it with soy sauce and turn it into ginger soy chicken!
2 lbs chicken drums, cut into bite size
1 thumb size ginger, julienned
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar, divided 1 tbsp into marinade and 2 tbsp to caramelized for color
3 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 cup water or coconut water
Marinate chicken with ginger, garlic, shallot, salt, 1 tbsp sugar, fish sauce and pepper for at least 20 minutes.
In a pan, sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar in 1 tbsp of oil and melt over medium heat. Move the sugar around a little and watch for the dark amber caramel color to develop. Quickly toss in the marinated chicken and combine well. Cook over high heat for 4-5 minutes before adding water/coconut water.
Bring the pot to a boil. Be sure to skim the top for impurities. Lower the heat and let it simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by a third.