A saucy, flavorful chicken dish perfect with a big bowl of rice! Vietnamese Ginger Chicken is a one pot dish. It's easy to make and seasoned with fish sauce, a caramel syrup (which is made in the same pot and takes only a few minutes), and plenty of fresh ginger.
Fish sauce (aka nuoc mam) is a key ingredient in our pantry.
You can purchase fish sauce at many supermarkets. If you visit an Asian supermarket, you'll see several different brands. We usually buy Red Boat or Three Crabs. If you go to a western supermarket, you'll likely see the Red Boat brand fish sauce. It is delicious.
This dish comes together in just 30 minutes. It is super easy to make and incredibly flavorful. Also saucy. Don't forget to cook rice. You'll want to eat this with a big bowl of hot rice!
Here's what you'll need:
- Chicken wings and/or drumsticks - We used a mix of chicken wings and drumettes which we got at Costco Hawaii. You can use all wings or all drumettes/drumsticks or a mix. All ways are good! Just make sure the chicken is bone-in and skin-on.
- Oil - Use a neutral oil like vegetable oil or avocado oil.
- Fish sauce - We usually use Red Boat or Three Crabs (pictured).
- Ginger - The more the merrier! When I'm making this dish for my parents I often double or even triple the ginger.
- Black pepper
See recipe card for quantities.
Let's get cooking!
Rinse and clean the chicken. Pat dry and set aside.
In a large pan over medium heat, add the sugar and oil. Keep stirring it until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize.
Once the caramel turns a deep golden color...
...add the chicken and stir until the chicken is lightly coated with the caramel.
Add the fish sauce and ginger. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir to saute the ginger.
Once the ginger is fragrant (about 2 minutes), add ¼ cup water. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then place the lid on the pan to cover.
Turn the heat to low and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the lid and turn the heat back up to medium. Stir to mix and cook off any excess liquid until there's a little liquid left. You just want enough "sauce" to drizzle over rice.
Eat and enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few popular ideas:
- Shallots - If you have time, slices up up a shallot or two and add it the same time you add the ginger (step 4 of the recipe below).
- Cilantro - Top the chicken with a bunch of chopped fresh cilantro right before serving. Delicious and and the addition of fresh herbs makes the dish feel extra bright.
- Spicy - We add black pepper for a little heat. If you like it really spicy, you can also add red chili peppers. Use kitchen scissors to cut the chili peppers into small pieces and add it right after adding the water (step 6 of the recipe below).
Vietnamese Ginger Chicken leftovers keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave in 30 second increments.
Make sure you do not burn the caramel. If you've made caramel for sweet or savory recipes before, you know what I mean.
If this is your first time (and it was everyone's first time at some point in time), it's super cool to see how caramel is made. It's really just sugar that's heated!
We want the caramel to be a nice deep golden color, but we do not want to burn it. So keep an eye on the caramel once the sugar melts. It can go from perfectly golden to burnt very quickly.
The caramel might harden when you add the chicken into the pot. No worries at all! This is normal because the chicken is likely cold when you first add it. Keep cooking and the caramel will re-melt again.
Serve this dish with a big bowl of rice (it's especially good with jasmine rice). To make it a "complete" meal, you can add a simple vegetable side dish like Okra and Ginger Soy Sauce, Bean Sprouts Stir Fry, or Avocado Salad.
Try our popular Ginger Chicken recipe - that recipe also uses a lot of ginger (we LOVE ginger). But instead of fish sauce, we season that dish with a mixture of soy sauce and oyster sauce. They're both different and both delicious.
Vietnamese Ginger Chicken Recipe
Vietnamese Ginger Chicken
- Rinse and clean the chicken. Pat dry and set aside.
- In a large pan over medium heat, add the sugar and oil. Keep stirring it until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize.
- Once it turns a deep golden color, add the chicken and stir until the chicken is lightly coated with the caramel.
- Add the fish sauce and ginger. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir to saute the ginger.
- Once the ginger is fragrant (about 2 minutes), add ¼ cup water. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil and then place the lid on the pan to cover.
- Turn the heat to low and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the lid and turn the heat back up to medium. Stir to mix and cook off any excess liquid until there's a little liquid left. You just want enough "sauce" to drizzle over rice.
- Eat and enjoy!
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