Monday, April 11, 2011

Add that to the list

Vietnamese-Style Caramel Chicken with Broccolini
The Best Simple Recipes Copyright 2010

1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons fish sauce (you can omit)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 bunches broccolini
1 TBSP vegetable oil
3 scallions, sliced thin

1. Heat sugar and 1/4 c water in skillet over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is bubbling and very dark brown, about 8 minutes. Whisk in additional 1/4 c water, fish sauce, ginger, half of garlic, and pepper flakes. Stir in chicken and cook until sauce is thickened and sticky and chicken is tender, 10 to 15 min. It seemed like my chicken was giving off too much liquid. I had to turn up the heat and cooked it a bit longer to get it sticky but I think could have used even more time to get darker and stickier.

2. Meanwhile, bring remaining water to boil in large skillet. Add broccolini and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until bright green and tender, about 5 min. Remove lid and cook until liquid evaporates, about 30 seconds. Stir in oil and remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to platter and top with chicken. (I just cooked plain broccoli.) Sprinkle with scallions. Serve.

Up until now I have avoided fish sauce. It wasn't that I was afraid of the taste or the smell, I just get a little hesitant with Asian ingredients due to my son's peanut allergy. But, I looked a little closer and fish sauce was probably safe and probably safe is plenty good enough considering my son was not going to eat this.

Fish sauce definitely wins the 'Stinkiest Ingredient I Ever Added To My Food Award'. Did it taste bad? Not really. It was mainly salty. Very salty. But that smell, my God, that smell. I could not really get past it. It smelled like fish bait pellets. I'd just as soon make Bourbon Chicken and have a similar sweet and salty result without the fishy smell. Honestly, I just don't see the point of the fish sauce. I read that you can substitute anchovy paste and soy sauce and I've never had a problem with anchovy paste (I usually love recipes that use it) so maybe I should have just gone that route.

So I guess I can add fish sauce to the list of ingredients I'd prefer to avoid. It's not a long list. Goat cheese is definitely on that list. I don't get goat cheese either. It tastes like goat.

I've been cooking a lot but the blog posts don't seem to be coming that easily. Hopefully I'll catch up soon.


Annie Jones said...

I think I'd sub in oyster sauce. It doesn't taste like oysters...LOL! It does taste like restaurant Asian food. Or maybe hoisin sauce would be good, too.

Sheila said...

That looks so good. We love fish sauce here. I'm not sure what brand I usually use--I'm out right now or I would check but it doesn't have a strong smell. I use it in quite a few recipes. Thanks for sharing.

Cyndi said...

It's nice to finally find someone else who doesn't like fish sauce. I can't stand it. And oyster sauce? Yuk. I either use soy sauce, or if I want something sweet, Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce. But your recIpe already has brown sugar, so I'd stick with the soy sauce.

Carol Ann said...

I agree with you about goat cheese. It tastes just like I think goat would taste.
Why do people like it so much when there are so many delicious cheeses to choose from?

M Smith said...

Hmmm. Fish sauce.

First, brand matters. Cheap brands smell like dead fish, plain and simple. With that said, even the best fish sauce has a fishy, but not knock-you-over-with-stench aroma. Fish sauce is more of a flavor enhancer and is essential for Thai cooking. I use it quite a bit since we make a lot of thai food at home.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't completely write it off just yet. But i totally get not wanting to spend a fortune on fish sauce to find one you like.

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I have thought about the brand since I didn't buy the one that ATK suggested but I didn't really have a choice either - I only found the one brand in my store. I'm sure it's not one of the better ones. I'm just not sure if it's worth pursuing. I'm going to have to see what other recipes I come across that call for fish sauce.

Jannett said...

this looks like a to try recipe... thanks for sharing.. ;o)

Anonymous said...

I'm allergic to pepper flakes... Any suggestion for substitution?

The Cookbook Junkie said...

You could just leave out the pepper flakes - the heat is nice but not completely necessary. There is 'bite' in the recipe from the garlic and ginger.

I really don't know enough about your allergy to say what, if anything, you could substitute. Black pepper would give it a kick. If there was a hot pepper sauce made from a variety of peppers you weren't allergic to, that could give it some heat.

Anonymous said...

Half the water and twice the garlic works better for me.

Honorbright said...

I doubled up on the recipe and you made me think of peanuts so I added them and an onion quartered twice at the last five minues of cooking time so they would still have some 'crunch'. That an a quarter cup of soy sauce and it came out so good, I know i will be making it again.

Unknown said...

It was so good!! I doubled the recipe and served with brown rice. I added a splash of fish sauce to the rice water. I turned the chicken over halfway and added the broccoli to the top of the chicken, covered and cooked 10 more minutes!! Husband and 4 kids cleaned their plates and had seconds. Don't leave the fish sauce out!! Thus recipe is a keeper.