Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

Working with chefs and their recipes has always been inspiring, from the most challenging dishes to the simple ones that become instant home classics. We asked Charles Phan, executive chef and owner of The Slanted Door in San Francisco, what he liked to cook at home, and he shared this take on caramelized black pepper chicken, a sweet and hot Vietnamese dish. It comes together in just minutes using ingredients that are common kitchen staples.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • About 1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 fresh Thai chiles, halved, or dried red chiles
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cilantro sprigs

Directions

  • Step 1
    In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, water, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper and chiles.
  • Step 2
    Heat the oil in a large deep skillet. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the fish sauce mixture and the chicken and simmer over high heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the cilantro and serve.

Notes

Because fish sauces vary in their saltiness, Phan advises adding the fish sauce to taste.

Serve With

Steamed jasmine rice.

Suggested Pairing

An oaky, round and ripe Napa Valley Chardonnay will balance the pepper-sweet sauce of this chicken dish.

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