Celebrate Flavors of Asia

There’s something about single degree weather that makes exotic recipes and ingredients seem even more appealing than usual. For the past dozen or so years, we have been featuring Southeast Asian foods in February, but this year we wanted to dive right into it. The Produce department gets to feature different cool fruits, vegetables and seasonings than usual, and the Grocery department moves some of their favorite ethnic ingredients to the front and center of the store to get the attention they deserve.

We also post our favorite recipes using all the interesting items we feature, and rediscover how delicious they can be. The Caramel Chicken (Thit ga kho gung) is our staff favorite—incredibly simple to make, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Once you taste it, you will crave it.

Thit ga kho gung
(Chicken in caramel sauce)

1 1/2 LB boneless chicken thighs, cut in quarters
2 TBL vegetable oil
1 TBL chopped garlic
3 TBL finely chopped ginger
2 TBL finely chopped shallot or onion
2 TBL fish sauce
2 TBL palm sugar or brown sugar
1 TBL granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
¼ cup water
3 scallions, cut into 2 inch lengths, and slivered

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Push meat to the sides of the pan and add the ginger, shallots and garlic. Cook for about a minute, then add the fish sauce, sugars, salt & pepper and chili flakes and toss everything together. Let the juices come to a boil and start to thicken, then add water. Adjust the heat to keep the sauce simmering, and continue to cook the chicken for 10 -15 minutes longer, tossing the ingredients occasionally. When the sauce is deep reddish brown syrup and the chicken is cooked through, add the scallions and toss well. Serve hot or warm.

It’s something about the simple combination of lime juice, chilies, fish sauce and cilantro that tastes so fresh and so refreshing which is always welcomed during a cold New England winter.