This authentic caramel chicken recipe is the Vietnamese comfort food of your dreams! Tender, flavorful chicken braised in a delicious caramel and coconut water sauce is served over a bed of steamed white rice,and topped with fresh herbs. So satisfying. I’ll also teach you my tips and tricks for getting the best results for your Gà Kho Gừng!
Boneless or Bone-in Chicken?
A common mistake I see in some braised chicken recipes is using boneless chicken or white meat like chicken breasts. While boneless chicken may be easier to eat and chicken breast has less fat, these won’t make for a satisfying Gà Kho Gừng because you will lose a lot of flavors.
I highly suggest using bone-in chicken because there is so much wonderful flavor from the bones that goes into the chicken meat and sauce during the cooking process. Without it, there’s just something missing from the dish.
For this recipe, I use chicken quarters. Thighs and drumsticks would also work great. However, I don’t recommend chicken breast because it would very much dry out during the cooking process. Dark meat like thighs and drumsticks have more fat, which means they’re much less likely to overcook and will also result in a juicier, more flavorful chicken. If you really want to cook a delicious Vietnamese dish with chicken breast, I highly recommend my Phở Gà recipe – it comes with detailed instructions for creating juicy shredded chicken breast that isn’t overcooked!
How Long to Marinate Chicken?
For this recipe, I marinated the chicken overnight in the refrigerator. It results in super flavorful and delicious chicken! You can make the chicken marinade in the evening and have well-marinated chicken ready for cooking the next day. Just remember to take it out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cooking so it can go down to room temperature.
If you’re in a time crunch, you can still get a lot of flavor from marinating the chicken for a few minutes to an hour – massaging the marinade into the meat can help. But the best amount of time if you aren’t doing it overnight would be 3-4 hours. This is enough time for those delicious flavors to penetrate the meat.
What to Serve with Vietnamese Ginger Chicken?
I serve Gà Kho Gừng the traditional way: over steamed rice. The soft and fluffy rice is a great vehicle for the saucy chicken. It’s such a warming and comforting dish! By the way, if you love this then I’m sure you’ll also love my authentic Thịt Kho Trứng recipe.
For garnish, I use green onions and cilantro. This is optional but highly recommended. When you’re using the cilantro, make sure to keep the stems in because there is a lot of flavor in them. You can chop them finely for a better texture.
On the side, I also like to add a lot of fresh Vietnamese herbs from my garden! I have home-grown cilantro, basil, and mint – all such wonderful additions that bring a lot of freshness to the dish.
Authentic Gà Kho Gừng Recipe
- 3 lbs Bone-In Chicken I use Chicken Quarters but thighs and drumsticks would work great.
- 3 pieces Shallots
- 1-2 pieces Thumb-size Ginger
- 4-5 gloves Garlic
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/4 cup Fish Sauce
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 can Coconut Water (11 oz)
- Green Onions
- Marinate chicken with sugar, black pepper, salt, fish sauce and onion powder.
- Minced shallots and garlic and add to chicken.
- Peel ginger, grate it with cheese grater and add to chicken.
- Take 1 thumb-size piece of ginger and cut it into matchsticks – we will cook with this ginger later.
- Let chicken marinade for at least one hour. I prefer 3-4 hours to maximize all the flavors.
- Time to cook! Let’s add 2 tbsp of sugar to a pot over medium heat. Let the sugar melt and become caramelized. You are looking for a deep amber color. Stir the sugar so it doesn’t burn. Make sure to keep an eye on this since it burns very easily.
- Once sugar has its desired color, add the chicken and all of the marinade.
- Let the chicken cook for a few minutes to take one the nice caramelized color of the sugar.
- After a few minutes of cooking, stir the chicken so the other sides can take on the same amber color. You want to do this 2-3 times until chicken looks all around beautiful.
- Now add the matchstick ginger pieces and let it cook with the chicken and caramelized sugar for another few minutes.
- Now add the coconut water.
- Put the lid on and let chicken cook for about 15 minutes.
- Remove lid and cook for another 10 minutes. This is the time when the liquid will thicken a little and make a nice sauce.
- After 10 minutes of cooking without the lid on, the chicken will be tender and has absorb all of the beautiful flavors. Ready to serve!