Okay, so this may not be the exact recipe for Caramel Chicken, made famous by The Slanted Door, a popular Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco. Theirs is actually made in a clay pot and takes much longer to prepare. Ain't nobody got time for that! It’s been well reported that this dish is a favorite of Mick Jagger, who makes a point of ordering it when he’s in the city by the bay. This version is quick, easy, and delicious, and can be whipped up in just a few minutes on the stove top. No clay pot required.
The Slanted Door Caramel Chicken
Serves 4 to 6
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon tamari
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Thai chilies, sliced thin
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
Freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle, for garnish
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, water, fish sauce, vinegar, sherry, tamari, ginger, garlic and chilies.
Season chicken generously with pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil until shimmery and almost smoking; add the chicken and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes total. Adjust the heat as necessary. Push the chicken to the sides of the pan forming a well. Pour the sauce in the middle of the well and reduce until thick and syrupy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir to coat the chicken and finish cooking through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the scallions.
To serve, mound rice on a platter and pour the chicken over. Shower with peanuts and cilantro.
Note: Tamari is dark aged soy sauce.