7 ingredient magic! The coconut fragrance of this Vietnamese Coconut Caramel Chicken is absolutely heavenly. It’s sticky, sweet with a savoury undertone, and it’s simple to make. All you need is coconut milk, sugar, garlic, eschallot, vinegar, fish sauce and chicken. Watch how to make it in the recipe video!
There are no words to describe how good this is. And how it looks like a million bucks when it’s finished but completely unimpressive while it’s cooking, and you’ll probably be doubting me the whole time right up until the last 5 minutes when it transforms from milky bleakness into golden gloriousness.
This is the chicken version of the wildly, unexpectedly popular Vietnamese Caramel Pork that I shared a few weeks ago. It really caught me off guard how much you loved that one – and it makes me so happy! That sort of recipe is completely and utterly me. A little different from the usual, big kapow! flavours, a bit exotic, and yet something that anyone can make without having to hunt down hard to find ingredients.
At the time I shared it, I was flopping back and forth trying to decide whether to share the legit Vietnamese pork version or this chicken version which is adapted from the pork. And, unsurprisingly, quite a few people asked how to make the Vietnamese Caramel Pork with chicken. It’s not as simple as just switching the pork with chicken. So here it is – the chicken version. 🙂
The Vietnamese Caramel Pork is made with coconut water which actually doesn’t taste of coconut. It’s kind of salty and a bit sweet – not that pleasant to drink plain. But it works great as a broth to slow cook pieces of pork.
However, I found that with chicken, it lacked flavour (pork meat has a stronger flavour than chicken). So I used coconut milk instead and tweaked a few things – coconut milk is way sweeter than coconut water, so I cut down slightly on the sugar and added vinegar to balance out the sweetness. Plus reduced the cook time – the pork takes 90 minutes which is too long for chicken.
I find it’s easiest to make Vietnamese Coconut Caramel Chicken with bone in, skin on thigh fillets, not only because you get the gorgeous bronzing of the skin but also because it won’t fall apart in the time it takes to reduce the broth down to a sticky sauce. However, I also really like this made with skinless boneless thigh fillets so I’ve got directions for this in the recipe too (it does involve taking them out earlier, otherwise they fall apart and it gets difficult to handle in the sticky sauce).
I, Nagi of RecipeTin Eats, do hereby solemnly declare that this will be the last variation of a recently published recipe for the remainder of 2017.
I’m very aware that I’ve done a handful of variations of late, pursuant to reader requests. 🙂 Like the Mushroom Rice (stove version) which was followed by a Baked Mushroom Rice. Parmesan Crusted Potatoes were followed by the low carb version of Parmesan Crusted Cauliflower.
Now Vietnamese Caramel Pork followed by this Vietnamese Coconut Caramel Chicken.
That’s it! No more!!!! (For 2017 😉 ) – Nagi x
- 4 large / 5 small chicken thighs , bone in skin on (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup / 80 g brown sugar , loosely packed
- 1 tbsp water
- 400 g / 14 oz coconut milk , low fat (1 can) (Note 2)
- 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (Note 3)
- 2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 eschallot / French onion , finely sliced (Note 4)
- 1/4 tsp white pepper (or black)
- 1 shallot , finely sliced (green onion / scallion)
- 1 large red chilli , finely sliced
Place sugar and water in a skillet over medium heat. Stir, then when it bubbles and the sugar is melted (it looks like caramel), add the rest of the ingredients except chicken.
Stir, then put the chicken in SKIN SIDE DOWN.
Adjust the heat so it is simmering energetically. Not rapidly, not a slow simmer (I use medium high heat on a weak stove, medium on a strong stove).
After 25 minutes, turn the chicken.
After another 25 minutes, the fat should separate from the sauce and turn a pale brown (see video).
Turn chicken so the skin side is down. Move it around so the sauce doesn't catch on the bottom of the skillet and to brown the skin.
Once sauce and skin is brown, remove from heat.
Place chicken on serving plates, spoon over some sauce (don't need much, chicken is infused with flavour + sauce is strong).
Garnish with shallots and chilli, if using. Serve with rice.
1. I used 4 x 250g / 8 oz ones in the video which are larger than I like. I prefer using 5 x 200g / 6.5 oz thighs. Bone in, skin on is best because the skin goes golden and also is cooked to be tender by the time the liquid reduces down.
To make this with SKINLESS, BONELESS THIGHS, cut the thighs in half then proceed with recipe. Take the chicken out at 35 / 40 minutes when it is tender but before it is fall apart. Once the fat separates from the sauce (see video) and is starting to brown, put the chicken back in to brown it and coat in sauce. You won't get quite the same browning on the chicken as with skin on thighs.
BREAST: I don't recommend breast because it can't be cooked for long to infuse it with flavour like thigh. However, if you are really keen to try this with breast (and you will get the beautiful sauce on both sides of the breast) this is how I would do it: pound breast to 2cm / 4/5″ thick, then cook each side just for 4 minutes each in the braising liquid. Then remove, reduce liquid until the fat separates (at the end in the video) then put it back in just to brown each side.
2. Full fat is also fine. Can't taste the difference in flavour, just don't need the extra fat.
3. Fish sauce has more complex flavours than soy sauce, and it won't taste fishy by the end of the cook time. For LOW SODIUM, sub with low sodium soy.
4. Eschallots look like baby onions and they are finer so they disintegrate in the sauce. You can sub with 1/4 normal onion finely chopped.
5. AUTHENTICITY: This is recipe is adapted from Vietnamese Caramel Pork which is an authentic Vietnamese recipe. So it's not strictly authentic - as far as I know. 🙂
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming this is made with 5 x 200g / 6.5 oz bone in thighs. The calories will be quite a bit higher than the actual because as you will see in the video, the fat separates and you avoid it when spooning the sauce over the chicken. You can even drain it off.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
Still sporting the Cindy Crawford beauty spot*. Who wears it better?
* Otherwise known as black permanent hair colour that somehow got splodged on this face when he tagged along with me to the hairdresser!
Cindy Crawford image credit Feelgrafix.com.