Tuesday, May 18, 2010

caramelized black pepper chicken

Sometimes I possess the willful obstinacy of a small child. No sooner did the Food and Drug Administration announce their new anti-sodium campaign than I dusted off our suite of Kikkoman products. It’s as though an umami bomb exploded in our kitchen, and I’m kind of enjoying it. (Even if my blood pressure isn’t.)

This recipe comes from Charles Phan, of the appropriately beloved Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. While it may not rival my meals there (which have been, for the most part, transcendent), it’s simple enough to be on the plate in 20 minutes, and tasty enough to rival most take-out.

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken
Adapted from Charles Phan

Serves 4

Don’t skimp on the black pepper or Thai chilis—they provide the requisite heat to counterbalance the caramelized chicken.

2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 fresh Thai chilis, halved, or red chile flakes to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
Chopped cilantro

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, water, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper and chiles. Adjust ingredients to taste.

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the fish sauce mixture and the chicken and simmer over high heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the cilantro and serve.

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