Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

Has anybody had success with this recipe? https://www.foodandwine...
I have tried it twice and it doesn’t come out remotely caramelized like the dish I love at the Slanted Door in SF. I also question the cooking method - just seems to kind of boil the chicken. What am I doing wrong?

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7 Comments

Justin T. April 6, 2019
The version of this recipe on Food and Wine seems to be completely off from the recipe that's actually in The Slanted Door Cookbook. I've made it several times with great success. The main issue I see is that the caramel sauce is supposed to be made separately. I think this is why you're ending up with something closer to boiled chicken. I'd also keep in mind, the "caramelized" description in the title is coming from the fact that it's a caramel sauce. You're not going to end up with caramelization on the chicken meat itself. Here's the recipe that's in his actual cookbook: https://leitesculinaria.com/99233/recipes-vietnamese-caramel-chicken.html
 
ChefAnnie April 6, 2019
Thank you! I’m going to try again. Ordering some palm sugar from Amazon. And, silly me, did not use my clay pot and will next time. I love the Slanted Door and am craving this dish. Every time I go, I plan to order something different and end up ordering this. Fortunately, we all share tastes of our dishes so I do get to try new things. I have the cookbook and shame on me for not using the original recipe.
 
Justin T. April 6, 2019
Good luck! I've made it with both palm sugar and coconut sugar, and in a clay pot and in a regular pot, and they have all turned out extremely similar and delicious. I'll have to try adding in the black pepper and rice wine vinegar from the recipe you posted to mix it up. Happy cooking! :)
 
Lori T. April 6, 2019
Yes, I have had success making the dish - but not with this recipe. If you want it to taste more like the Vietnamese versions, skip the brown sugar and use palm sugar if you can find it. Stir fry the meat separately to get some color, and set aside. Melt the palm sugar in the microwave, and add it to the pan with the other sauce ingredients. Once it comes to a boil, you can add in chicken to finish cooking in the sauce while it cooks down. That way you don't end up with a boiled chicken taste or texture so much. I think the real trick is with the sugar- palm sugar is not quite the same as brown sugar- so if you can source some through an Oriental food shop that's best.
 
tia April 6, 2019
Safeway/Vons (I think there are at least a few other store names associated with them) sell palm sugar under the name "Coconut sugar" from their O Organics line. It appears to be the same as palm sugar, just not in a bar or cone form.
 
Lori T. April 6, 2019
Coconut sugar is not the same thing as palm sugar. They come from two different plants. It gets confused because sometimes they call it coconut palm sugar, as it come from the palm that grows coconuts. I'm not sure if it will make a huge difference, because I've only used palm sugar cakes.
 
ChefAnnie April 6, 2019
Big thanks! Have ordered palm sugar from Amazon.
 
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