i’ve been wanting to try to make real asian food for a while… but the ingredient list always scares me off because i don’t like keeping things in my valuable pantry space that won’t be used regularly. but i decided i should make room.

my first endeavor was vietnamese – caramel chicken. i first tried this dish at a restaurant in san francisco, the slanted door. while my siblings and i argued (could it really be CARAMEL chicken or caramelIZED chicken?), we realized it was really a bit of both and it was delicious.

the oddball ingredient here was fish sauce. honestly, as someone who is new to east asian cuisine in general, i could do without it… and i wonder if it really adds much, but hey, i’m indian what do i know about vietnamese cuisine.

SIDE NOTE – this can probably be made with tofu instead of chicken.

i had some mushrooms in the fridge so i decided to brown them and throw them in as well.

i just heated up some oil and butter over medium, medium-high heat and tossed the mushrooms in. let them brown.

then take the mushrooms out and set aside.


  • add a bit more oil to the pan if needed.
  • slide in about 1 lb chicken breasts or tenders, cut into chunks.
  • let lightly brown on one side.
  • flip, and let it sit for about a minute or so
  • take it out and put aside with the mushrooms.

*note – don’t let it cook all the way through, the chicken will continue to cook in the sauce and we don’t want rubber chicken!

if the chicken used up all the oil, but a bit more in the pan and add a few cloves of garlic, minced and some sliced red onion.

sauté for a few minutes until the onions begin to soften.

put the chicken and mushrooms and all accumulated juices back in the pan, sprinkle with black pepper, and add about 1/4 low sodium soy sauce. cover and let cook for 5-10 min.

add about 1/4 cup of fish sauce… which i think can be left out or substituted with more soy and maybe a splash of mirin… and also add 1/2 cup brown sugar. this is your caramel portion 🙂

let cooked uncovered until chicken is done and sauce has slightly thickened.

sprinkle some chopped green onions and voilà!

serve with rice or noodles and/or veggies, or eat by itself! 🙂

caramel chicken

vegetable or canola oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 pint (? the smaller carton) of mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

1 lb. chicken breasts or tenders cut into bute size pieces

1/4-1/2 red onion, sliced

3-4 cloves garlic

1/4-1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce (enough to coat and simmer)

black pepper

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup fish sauce OR less than 1/4 cup soy and a big splash of mirin

chopped scallions to finish

  1. follow process above. 🙂