Vietnamese Caramel Chicken


    Hello again! welcome to the final 2021 edition of the Improv Cooking Challenge. This month we are cooking something, anything, that involved Caramel and Cashews. And I have to say, I am SO excited there is another savory dish on this line up. I love looking at these challenges and finding something unexpected.

    Vietnamese chicken is a thick, sweet, sticky, chicken cooked in a palm sugar and coconut caramel. The caramel and chicken is topped with a tangy, vinegary salad the is the perfect foil for the rich sauce.  

    Did I modify this from the traditional? Just ever so slightly, and I do apologize. I swapped the fish sauce for soy sauce due to allergies. If you can eat fish sauce I recommend replacing the soy sauce I have listed for the fish sauce. I imagine the taste is superb.  

Improv Cooking Challenge

Caramel & Cashew

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken
8 chicken thighs
1/4 c. cashews
3 tbsp. oil
1/2 c. palm sugar
1 tbsp. water
1 (13.66 oz.) can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. ginger paste
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Rice to serve

    Heat a cast iron pan. Once the pan is hot add the oil. Add half the chicken thighs and sear on both sides. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Add the palm sugar and water to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts. 

    Add the onion and cook another 30 seconds, cooking constantly. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger paste, and white pepper. 

    Add the chicken back to the pan and simmer for 25 minutes, turn the chicken, and simmer for an additional 25 minutes. 

    Remove from the pan and serve with cooked rice and pickled vegetables. 

Pickled Vegetable Salad
1 red pepper, sliced thin
2 small cucumbers, julienned
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. fresh mint, chopped
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. palm sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt and mix until the salt is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 


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