Ga Kho- Vietnamese Caramelized Spicy Chicken

Must Try Recipes

Judge me if you’d like, but I sure miss being able to eat American Chinese food.  Not the fancy stuff or dim sum… I’m talking about Panda Express-style orange or General Tso’s chicken.  And while I’m in disclosure mode, I may as well admit that I wouldn’t mind a goldfinger or crab rangoon either.

Sure, this caramelized spicy chicken isn’t Chinese food.  But the good news?  It’s even better (and naturally gluten-free!).  Chunks of boneless, skinless chicken are simmered in a sweet and spicy fish sauce-based broth until the liquid has reduced into a sticky, super flavorful sauce that coats every tender bite.  It’s traditional to make this dish in a clay pot, but I found a basic skillet worked just fine.

I’m thinking this is a dish that could appeal to the whole family- just adjust the Thai chiles according to heat tolerance and preference.  I’m the kind of girl who gravitates to menu items marked with the little chile/heat symbol, so I used 3 sliced Thai chiles AND a couple whole chiles as well.  But that’s probably excessive and not necessarily traditional, so feel free to adapt it to make it work for you.

Ga Kho- Vietnamese Caramelized Spicy Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


* 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken (thighs preferred, but breast also works)
* 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, grated (peeled, frozen ginger is easy to grate)
* 2-3 small shallots, minced (I used shallots about the size of ping pong ball)
* 1-3 Thai chiles (depending on your heat tolerance/preference), sliced
* 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
* 2 Tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
* 1 Tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/4 cup water
* 6-8 green onions, sliced on the diagonal into approx 2-inch lengths


Cut the chicken into large chunks and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the pieces of chicken are no longer pink. Push the chicken to the perimeter of the saucepan and add the garlic, ginger, shallots and Thai chiles. Cook for several minutes, until softened.

Combine the fish sauce, both sugars and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix.

Toss the chicken and garlic mixture and then pour in the fish sauce mixture and stir to coat. Bring to a boil for a minute or two and then add the water. Adjust heat to a low simmer and then let the chicken cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through. Add the green onions.

Remove from heat and serve with rice.

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