Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

Asian food seems to be one of those types of food that only tastes good in a restaurant. I suppose it's a lack of understanding about their culture and what goes into their food preparation. I mean I've got the southern comfort food down pat, but I've also been exposed to it (cooking and eating) all my life. I have been in the kitchen with a Philipino and I would say I feel slightly more comfortable cooking that style of food now. However, Chinese food, the Americanized kind at least, is a whole other ballgame. I refuse to give up that easily though. I'm not sure I really want to know what makes those take-out dishes so yummy (I'm thinking sodium, msg, sugar,...) but I continue my search for an authetic tasting meal.

This recipe came pretty darn close! I found this on another blog and I'm sorry I can't give proper credit for the introduction of this recipe. However, it wasn't their recipe, they got it from Food and Wine, so I don't feel quite as bad about my negligance. When I saw this was a dish that the owner of The Slanted Door created, I just had a feeling it would be a winner. For those of you that might not know, The Slanted Door is an award-winning Vietnamese restaurant in San Fransisco, owned by Charles Phan. Thanks Mr. Phan, you didn't let me down, this one came pretty darn close to restaurant quality and taste!

I just reazlied the recipe I made was not the original recipe from Food and Wine. So I must have used the one from the mysterious blog. I'm posting the one that I actually made but I'm sure the original would be just as tasty! The only changes I made were to add veggies (I stir-fried those first and used red peppers, red cabbage, onions, and mushrooms) and I used chili paste instead of the whole chilies.


•2/3 cup dark brown sugar (unrefined)
•1/3 cup fish sauce
•1/3 cup rice vinegar
•1/2 cup water
•2 teaspoons finely grated garlic
•2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
•2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
•1 or 2 fresh Thai chilis (to your taste!), halved
•2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
•2 shallots, thinly sliced
•2 pounds organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces (1/2”)
•2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, ginger, pepper and chili and reserve.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the veggies, if using. Saute for 8-10 minutes, or until soft. Remove from pan and add anouther 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook the shallots until softened and a bit brown, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and stir-fry, browning it all over, about a minute. Add the sugar mixture and simmer over high heat until the chicken is totally cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add the veggies back in to reheat. Stir in the cilantro and serve over rice.

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