You can substitute the ginger with two stalks of finely chopped lemongrass or lime leaves. You can also use whole drumsticks and thighs, just cook them for a bit longer.
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil
2 round shallots, roughly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tsp brown sugar
400g chicken thighs, bones removed, skin on, sliced into bite-sized pieces
70g ginger root, julienned
150ml coconut water
2–4 bird’s eye chillies, whole
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 heaped tsp ground black pepper
FOR THE GARNISH
Spring onions, sliced lengthways and soaked in cold water until curled (optional)
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil over a gentle heat in a saucepan that will fit the chicken pieces snuggly. Fry the shallots until golden, then add the garlic. Stay and watch over the pan until the garlic turns golden, then remove the shallots and garlic from the pan, leaving any oil, and set aside in a small bowl.
- Add the remaining oil to the same pan and increase the heat to medium. Spread the brown sugar evenly over the surface of the pan. Watch over the pan for the sugar to caramelise, resisting the urge to stir. It should take 3 1/2–4 minutes, but don’t take your eyes off it as it will burn very quickly. As soon as it becomes a golden colour, watch for it to slightly darken, then immediately add the chicken pieces and let them sizzle away for a couple of minutes before turning.
- Add the ginger, let it sit for 2 minutes, then add the coconut water. Return the fried shallot and garlic to the pan with the bird’s eye chillies, fish sauce and black pepper.
- Cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, then remove the lid to reduce for a further 10–15 minutes. It should be reduced and quite succulent and sticky. When ready to serve, garnish with spring onions. Serve with rice and plenty of greens.
The recipes and infusions are from Vietnamese: Simple Vietnamese Food to Cook at Home by Uyen Luu, published by Hardie Grant, price £22. To order a copy for £18.70 until 9 August, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.