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Ga Kho Gung - Caramelized Chicken w/ Ginger and Veggie Stir Fry

January 30, 2015
Since my husband has been away on business and El and Lil have been battling different bugs, our meals have been reheated frozen leftovers mostly.  I always make extras of things like Bolognese Sauce or lasagnas or shepard's pies... because it's just so easy to reheat in a pinch.  But last night, I felt motivated to cook the girls something yummy... something they like to eat.  Luckily, the girls are fans of MOST veggies and they love the savory sweetness of a good caramelized chicken or pork.

I found a good recipe to try from Danang Cuisine... I had all the ingredients... and a roast chicken tonight just didn't quite cut it.  I've become bored by roasts this winter for some reason...

The Ingredients

I cut up a fresh chicken into legs, thighs, wings, and boneless breasts cut into thirds.  I removed the backbone and threw that into a bag and into the freezer for a future soup stock.  Hey! Nothing goes to waste!

Next, peel the garlic cloves, peel and roughly chop the ginger and shallots, throw all of your aromatics into a chopper and pulse for a few seconds - voila! A beautiful, uniform mince!!  Man, do I love my little chopper.  It really makes the chopping of veggies or aromatics or nuts so easy and so quick!  I love it so much that I got one for my sister as a Christmas gift.

Prepping the Marinade

Add the minced aromatics, sugar, fish sauce, chicken stock, and pepper to the chicken in a large bowl.  Let it sit for 30 minutes.

While the chicken marinates, grab some veggies - I used broccoli, a carrot, a zucchini, an onion, garlic, and a handful of mushrooms.

The Vegetables

Chop all the veggies into nice bite size pieces, chop the onion into smaller size, and thinly slice the garlic. You are going to do a timed dance with this stir-fry... you can't throw everything in at once because not everything cooks at the same rate.  Now for the Do-Si-Do...

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan.  Add the chopped onion and cook on medium high til softened.  Then add the carrots, cos let's face it, those will take the longest.  Cook for a few minutes, then add the chopped broccoli stalks (not the florets).  Cook for a few more minutes, then add the sliced garlic.  I waited for a little to add the garlic.  Typically, they go in after the onions... but I have a bad habit of burning the garlic... so I waited til after the hard stalked veggies got a little softer and then added the garlic.

Cook for a few minutes, then add the broccoli florets.  At this point, things got a little dry and sticky in the pan, so I added 1/4 C of chicken stock to loosen things up and add some steam to help cook the veggies.  Cook for a few minutes and then add the chopped zucchini, and finally the mushrooms.  Add each veggie after a few minutes of adding the previous veggie.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.

In the end, add another 1/4 C of chicken stock, give it a good stir and loosely cover to further fry/steam the veggies.  Keep an eye out on the coloring.  I find that a complete cover of the veggies leads to some really yellow-ish veggies... and nothing is less appealling than that!  So the cover I used was slightly smaller than the pan, which lets the veggies continue to steam but not get over steamed, if you know what I mean!

Put the pan onto low heat and let it gently finish cooking while you get back to working on the chicken.
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil and 2 Tbsp of sugar in a medium sized pot.  Watch the sugar go from white to a dark amber.  Once it starts to smoke and the color is right, throw in the marinated chicken pieces (watch out for the frantic sizzle!) and cook over medium heat til there's no pink showing.  The coloring of the chicken will gradually turn to a lovely caramelized brown.

Once ready, add the 1.5 C of chicken stock and let it cook for 30 - 40 minutes.  The stock will reduce by a third.  The broth will go from a cloudy, watery soupy consistency and reduce down to a nice caramel color sauce.  Spoon out any foam or scum that floats to the surface.

Keep cooking til you get to a saucy consistency... this isn't a soup we are aiming for.  You want to be able to spoon that yummy sauce all over everything because it's soo good!

In the 30 minutes you are waiting for the chicken to finish, make yourself a pot of steaming white rice.  Give the veggies a stir here and there.  Then, voila!, everything will be ready to be plated or set on the table at the same time.

Dinner for Three Girls

This meal definitely makes me feel good - it's yummy, the girls love it, i feel good that the meal is healthy and balanced, and I know my mom would be proud of me to continue the Vietnamese food traditions in my family.

And luckily, this is one of those dishes that I can get a second night of dinners out of... because, lo and behold, now I have this pesky bug... and I definitely won't be up for cooking later tonight.  Achoo!!!


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