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Carmelized Black Pepper Chicken

August 31, 2009

Yesterday Haley and I finally made a long-talked about trip to the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, which is known for all their Asian produce.  I decided to make some Vietnamese food for dinner and looked up a few recipes before I went so I wouldn’t just buy random stuff that wouldn’t actually yield a final dish.  I came away with 6 recipes to try, which you’ll see this week.  First up is this recipe from Charles Phan (via for chicken.  Phan owns the Slanted Door, one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco.  I made this chicken dish with a cold rice noodle salad, some eggplant in coconut milk, and a Chinese

carmelized black pepper chicken

carmelized black pepper chicken

broccoli (that wasn’t worth writing home about).  You’ll see the salad and eggplant posted this week.  The chicken was great, and although I didn’t get the thick caramel style sauce I should have, it had tons of flavor.  If you want the thick sauce, you can remove the chicken after it has cooked and boil the sauce on high heat to reduce it, or just ladle some of the sauce over the noodles.  It’s great either way.  Serves 4.


1/2 c dark brown sugar (I used more like 1/3 c, because it just seemed like a lot of sugar.  i’m sure that was part of my problem)

1/4 c fish sauce

1/4 c water

3 T rice vinegar

1 t minced garlic

1 t grated fresh ginger

1 t coarsely ground black pepper

2 fresh Thai chilis, sliced in half

1 T vegetable oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced (optional)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces

4 cilantro sprigs


In a small bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients and stir to dissolve sugar.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or wok over medium high heat.  When hot, add the shallot and cook until softened, about 4 minutes (or skip straight to adding the chicken), then add the chicken.  Cook, stirring occassioanlly, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.  If desired, remove chicken and boil sauce until the consistency of gravy.  Top with cilantro sprigs and serve with rice or rice noodles.

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