Vietnamese-Style Caramel Chicken with Broccoli
Why This Recipe Works
Traditional Vietnamese-style caramel chicken promises a dish that balances a bittersweet caramel with salty and spicy flavors, but most recipes miss the mark. Cooking the caramel until it was a deep, dark color was key to achieving the right complex bittersweetness, while fish sauce (in a 1:4 ratio of fish sauce to caramel) lent the traditional balancing salty component. A combination of ginger and black pepper provided the right amount of heat. Cutting the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in half, rather than into smaller bits as called for in many of the recipes we found, gave the chicken more time to absorb the sauce, while a quick soak in a baking soda–water bath helped the chicken stay juicy over a longer cooking time that turned the meat ultratender. To complete the meal, we steamed broccoli to serve alongside.