Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray. Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here.
Cookbook Countdown #5 : Recipe No. 2 - Caramel Ginger Chicken
from my selected cookbook for this month, Wild, Wild East by Bobby Chinn
While browsing through this cookbook for recipes, I noticed that there are quite a number of recipes using Caramel Sauce. I am not a fan of sweet dishes, but I like the sound of this dish. Firstly the caramel needs to be cooked first. I made the full recipe of the caramel but ended up using only about a third of it. The chicken thigh meat are first marinated and then stir-fry briefly before it is cooked further in a claypot with the rest of the ingredients. I did not use all of the Caramel Sauce as we prefer savoury to sweet dishes. I've added about a third of the Caramel Sauce and find that the dish is rather sweet!
This is quite a tasty dish (even though it is a little sweet for me) and it goes well with plain white rice. The kids seems to like it, but both hubby and myself would prefer if it is less sweet. A good thing I did not use all of the Caramel Sauce!
Caramel Ginger Chicken
(adapted from "Wild, Wild East", Bobby Chinn)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp chopped shallots
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
freshly ground black pepper
1 green chile, finely chopped
juice squeezed from 2-in ginger
900gm boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-in cubes
Caramel Sauce :
1 cup (200gm) packed brown sugar
4 tsp fish sauce
3 cups (750ml) hot chicken stock or water
1 chile, cut in half
1 tsp lime juice
1 small cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp black peppercorns (optional)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-in piece ginger, cut into julienne strips
2 scallions, cut into 2-in lengths
8 sprigs of cilantro
steamed rice, to serve
Combine all the marinade ingredeints in a mixing bowl, reserving the chopped ginger, and mix in the chicken well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.
Make the caramel sauce; put the brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook it slowly until melted, making sure it does not burn at the edges. Once fully melted, turn the heat up and stir, making sure the sugar browns equally and uniformly. Be very careful, as the sugar can cause a wicked burn.
Once the sugar is just a little bit darker, turn the heat off to prevent overcooking of the caramel, remove your hand and spoon from the pot, and quickly pour the fish sauce into the caramel. (The sauce should be at room temperature, not chilled). Do this very carefully, as it will splatter violently. Add about 2 cups of hot stock or water to thin the sauce, then add the chile and lime juice. The hot liquid will prevent the sugar from crystallizing, but if it already has, just cook it longer until it dissolves. Reduce the heat and add the reserved chopped ginger. You can also add the cinnamon and peppercorns if you wish a little heat.
In a separate pan, place the vegetable oil over medium-to-high heat and wait until it is close to the smoking point. Add the marinated chicken mixture to the saucepan, stirring well to prevent burning (the sugar helps caramelize the chicken, but it is at risk of burning if it is not stirred). This is a quick stir-fry, as you only cook the outside of the chicken in the pan for approximately 2 minutes, and the majority is cooked in a pot.
Transfer the chicken to a pot (ideally a clay pot) and deglaze the pan with the remaining stock, transferring all the caramelized juices to the pot. Simmer the chicken in the pot until cooked and the liquid has reduced by one-quarter to a half. You may also reuse the sauce, but store it in the refrigerator and bring it to the boil again first.
Serve garnished with ginger julienne, scallions and cilantro, and accompanied by rice.
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