One of the times when lil' sis and I were home in Portland, our parents had already made plans to go out for dinner. What? They were abandoning us? :( Don't worry, daddy said. He made us a special chicken dish from his hometown.
When lil' sis and I checked the pot, it turned out to be Ga Kho Gung (Vietnamese Braised Chicken with Ginger). While you could make this recipe with whole pieces of chicken, my dad chopped his chicken into bite-sized pieces, bones and all. Daddy's a country boy, where some of the neighbors literally live in mud floor huts with palm leaf walls. Eating a whole drumstick or thigh per person would have been a luxury. Hence, the chopping. It also makes for easier eating.
Once, while munching on chicken wings, lil' sis ate the drumettes and wingettes, but threw away the wing tips. What extravagant waste! My mom said when we were in the refugee camps in Hong Kong that she used to ask restaurants for their discarded wing tips. She would then take the wing tips back to our barracks and braise them, much like this.
Of course, you needn't be so frugal. Whole chicken pieces such as thighs or drumsticks or even wings would work just fine. You could even just cube boneless chicken thighs or breasts. But me, I like the chopped chicken pieces. They remind me of how far we've come.
This recipe is intended to have a lot of sauce. Spoon the sauce over rice or even dip with bread if you'd like.
Ga Kho Gung (Vietnamese Braised Chicken with Ginger)
For half a chicken or 4 pieces of chicken, you'll need:
Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce)
4 pieces of chicken, preferably thighs, cut into two-inch chunks if you wish
2 shallots or 1 small onion, diced small
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2-inch knob of ginger, sliced
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce), or more according to taste
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup water
Optional: If you don't want to make the caramel sauce, you can substitute by adding 1 tblsp of Indonesian Kecap Manis.
Wash and cut the chicken. Dice the shallots or onion. Mince the garlic. Slice the ginger.
Make the Vietnamese caramel sauce if you wish. Otherwise, put the chicken pieces into the pot of caramel sauce and add 1 tblsp fish sauce, 3 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, and 1 cup water. Add in the shallots, garlic, and ginger and mix everything up.
This recipe is very forgiving. I chopped up what was left of my Ga Ro Ti Xa (Vietnamese Roasted Lemongrass Chicken) and added it into the pan as well. Cook on medium heat until the liquid starts reducing.
About 20 minutes later and the liquid is still a little loose. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
And 40 minutes later, a nice thick caramel sauce has formed.
The times might vary depending on your stove. Make sure you check and add water if needed so the chicken doesn't burn.
Serve with rice and a side of sauteed greens.
Who made my recipe for ga kho gung?
Nathan of La Cocina de Nathan who added a lot more fish sauce and salt per his taste buds said, "These are the ratios I used, and I loved it." Which just goes to show that this recipe is very adaptable.
My other Vietnamese braised dishes:
Bo Kho Mang (Vietnamese Braised Beef with Bamboo Shoots)
Ca Kho To (Vietnamese Braised Catfish in a Claypot)
Suon Kho Xa Gung Toi Ot (Vietnamese Braised Pork Chops with Lemongrass, Ginger, Garlic, and Chilies)
Thit Heo Kho Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu)
Thit Heo Kho Mit (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Jackfruit)
Thit Heo Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
Xiu Mai (Vietnamese Meatballs)
1 year ago today, Palms Thai Restaurant - Los Angeles (Hollywood).
2 years ago today, Khmer classical dance at Koulen Restaurant - Siem Reap, Cambodia.
3 years ago today, lil' sis made star-shaped cupcakes.