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Quick Caramelized Chicken

My niece’s favorite meal, whenever grandma comes around, is this caramelized chicken dish with rice. It comprises of classic Vietnamese salty and sweet flavors with tender moist chicken and crispy skin. It’s a flavor bomb and it never lasts long in this household. This is a very simple dish, which makes it a perfect weeknight meal.


6 drumsticks or other cuts of chicken that you prefer

2 and 1/2 teaspoons of cane sugar (You can substitute with white sugar if it’s not available. Cane sugar gives a nicer caramelized color to this dish.)

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder

1 tablespoon of water

3 tablespoons of coconut soda

2 teaspoons of fish sauce

1 tablespoon of diced onion and thick slices of 1/4 of an onion to garnish

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

A few Thai chilis (optional)



Prepare the drumsticks by removing the main bone, while leaving the end piece intact. You can also skip this step and opt for boneless chicken.

Filet the meat around the bone.

Cut through the bone here to keep the end piece intact.

The end result is a nice filet that will cook more evenly. Discard the bone.

Before and after  the preparation.

Marinate chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon powder, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of diced onion, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar for 10 minutes.

While the chicken marinates, make the braising sauce by combining 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of cane sugar, 1 tablespoon of water, and 3 tablespoons of coconut soda in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. Fry 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. Once the garlic turns golden brown, sear the drumsticks with skin side down. Flip the chicken over when they turn golden to sear the other side.

Once both sides are crispy and golden, which only takes a few minutes, cover the pan and turn the heat to medium. This will help steam the chicken to thoroughly cook them for approximately 5 minutes.

When the chicken is almost done cooking, add the sauce and turn the heat to medium-high to bring it to a boil. Once the sauce boils, turn the chicken over to smother the sauce on the other side. Options: Add the Thai chilis for some heat and color. Once the sauce is rendered down (approximately 5 minutes from the boiling point), turn off the heat and add the onion slices. The remaining heat will cook them.

Enjoy this delicious caramelized chicken with rice and fresh salad.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

This entry was posted in: Eat, meat


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