Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Simple Sauce

One Hundred Best Days of My Life - Part II, Day 4

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken
Cooks Illustrated is my favourite magazine – not because I cook anything out of it, but because it can be picked up at any moment, any article read, and then laid down without having to remember which page I was on last. This month there is an article on how to make Vietnamese Caramel Chicken – a long article wherein the author tells how this recipe was developed and then points the reader to a time-sensitive video that show someone making the recipe. I read the article many times and watched the video twice. I bought the chicken thighs and checked out the ingredient so make sure that I had them all.

The trick of the recipe is knowing how to caramelize the sugar, which isn’t a hard task for someone who has made as much fondant as I have. It is the same technique I use when making Olympian Crème fondant: raise the temperature on the sugar until it is the colour of molasses and has begun to smoke. But after the sugar is caramelized, ¼ cup of fish sauce is added, 2 tablespoons of grated ginger and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Then the chicken is simmered in the sauce for 20 minutes, turning once in the middle. As you can see, the hardest part of the recipe is making sure I had the fish sauce and some ginger root at home. The miracle is the simplicity – a sauce with only 4 ingredients, 5 if you count thickening it at the end with some cornstarch.

I am trying to make a life-style change: less diary (represented by baked goods). So whenever I dream of making a delicious dessert, I bring myself back to a terrible reality. So I want to continue to clog my arteries with the bad fats, or am I willing to give them up in favour of staving off senility. Sometimes it is a hard choice. But in the case of this recipe – its production is almost as much fun as making a pan of brownies. Check the recipe out at COOKS ILLUSTRATED and then click on Watch the Video.


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