My father makes the best version of this. Dad rarely cooks, but when he does he does it so well. I remember standing on a stool by the stove as my father talked me through cooking this dish, the importance of growing the ginger yourself and the fact that the chicken tastes better when it’s still on the bone.
I love to eat this meal with a bowl of fresh steamed jasmine rice. This is my comfort food!
- 1 1.8 kg (4 lb) chicken
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 150 g (5½ oz) ginger, peeled and julienned
- 50 g (1 ¾ oz) fine caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra if needed
- 80 ml (2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) fish sauce, plus extra if needed
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 2 long red chillies, sliced
- handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
- steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. First, prepare the chicken. Using a cleaver or large knife, chop the chicken in half through the breastbone. Cut off the thighs, then break them down into 3–4 smaller pieces. Remove the chicken wings from the breast and cut off the tips. Finally, cut the breast into 5–6 pieces.
2. Place the oil and ginger in a large, deep frying pan with a lid and set over medium heat. Cook the ginger for 5–7 minutes until golden brown then, using a slotted spoon, remove the ginger from the oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.
3. Add the sugar to the ginger-infused oil over low heat. Cook, stirring continuously, for 7–10 minutes until the mixture turns a golden caramel. Take care not to burn the caramel, otherwise the dish will be bitter.
4. Add the chicken to the pan and stir quickly and continuously to ensure the chicken and caramel don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
5. Reduce the heat to medium–low and add the ginger and fish sauce. Keep stirring the chicken to coat with the caramel, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Check the seasoning and season with more sugar and fish sauce, if necessary.
6. Divide the chicken among serving bowls, sprinkle with white pepper and scatter the chilli and coriander over the top. Serve immediately with bowls of steamed rice.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99